TITLE: The Boys of Summer
AUTHOR: Sarah Madison
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
COVER ARTIST: Reese Dante
LENGTH: 200 Pages
RELEASE DATE: December 21, 2015
BLURB: 2nd Edition
David McIntyre has been enjoying the heck out of his current assignment: touring the Hawaiian Islands in search of the ideal shooting locations for a series of film-company projects. What’s not to like? Stunning scenery, great food, sunny beaches… and Rick Sutton, the hot, ex-Air Force pilot who is flying him around.
Everything changes when a tropical storm and engine failure force a crash landing on a deserted atoll with a WWII listening post. Rick’s injuries and a lack of food and water mean David has to step up to the plate and play hero. While his days are spent fighting for survival, and his nights are filled with worrying about Rick, the two men grow closer. David’s research for his next movie becomes intertwined with his worst fears, and events on the island result in a vivid dream about the Battle of Britain. On waking, David realizes Rick is more than just a pilot to him. The obstacles that prevented a happy ending in 1940 aren’t present today, and David vows that if they survive this stranding, he will tell Rick how he feels.
“I don’t think we’ve got much choice.” Sutton’s voice was grim. “We’re lucky to have that much. Hold on, these trees are coming up faster than I’d like.”
Still fighting to keep the nose of the plane up, Sutton guided the recalcitrant aircraft toward the so-called clearing, the ground rising up to meet them far faster than was comfortable. David found himself leaning back in his seat, bracing his hands on the console as the tops of trees scraped the underside of the plane. Branches swiped at the windshield, and David had the sudden impression of being in a car wash scene as written by Stephen King.
“Duck your head!” Sutton barked. “Wrap your arms around your legs!”
“And kiss my ass goodbye?” David shouted, raising his voice over the increasing noise as he obeyed Sutton’s orders.
Incredibly, Sutton laughed. It was an oddly comforting sound. Like everything was somehow going to be all right because Sutton was at the controls.
The moment of humor was gone in a flash. The plane screamed with the sound of tearing metal and the sharp, explosive crack of tree limbs and breaking glass. David kept his head down and his eyes closed, praying to a God he was pretty sure had more important things to do than to keep up with the well-being of one David McIntyre. Despite being strapped in his seat, his head and shoulder thumped painfully against the passenger side door as the plane thrashed wildly. There was a moment of eerie, blessed silence, and for an instant, the assault on the plane seemed as though it had lifted. Eye of the storm, David thought, just before the plane hit the ground.
Someone had left the window open and it was raining on him. How incredibly annoying. He shifted, intent on reaching for the offending window, when a jolt of pain ran through his shoulder and he gasped. When he opened his eyes, nothing made any sense at first. Then he remembered the crash, and realized that his side of the plane was pointing up at the sky. The rain was coming down in a steady stream through the broken windshield. The sound of the rain on the metal hull of the plane was nearly deafening.
He winced at the pain in his neck when he turned to look over at the pilot’s seat. Sutton was slumped to one side in his chair, unmoving. His sunglasses were hanging off one ear.
“Oh God, oh God, oh God,” David murmured, hastily undoing his seatbelt so he could reach across to Sutton. His skin was cold and damp where David touched it, and adrenaline pounded through David’s veins as though he could jumpstart Sutton’s heart by sending his own pulse beating through his fingertips. “Sutton! Rick!”
David fought to free himself of his seat, twisting for greater access to the other side of the cockpit. When the seatbelt came open, he fell half across Sutton. Sprawled practically in his lap, David could now see the nasty cut on the left side of Sutton’s temple. The pilot’s side of the plane had taken a lot of damage, and David yelped as he encountered a sliver of glass. Bits of the windshield and console were scattered like confetti over Sutton’s jacket. “Sutton!” The lack of response was unnerving. He tossed aside the sunglasses and worked a hand down into Sutton’s collar, feeling frantically for a pulse.
Show me an author who claims never to have experienced writer’s block, and I’ll raise an eyebrow. I think it’s fair to say we’ve all struggled with times when the words don’t flow as we’d like. Maybe you don’t want to call it writer’s block because that sounds so serious and has such negative connotations. Or maybe you don’t really consider it writer’s block until it’s lasted for an amount of time defined only by you. I think there are different degrees of block and I’m certainly not here to quibble with you over the definition. The most important thing for you to identify is when to push through it and when to let it ride.
My first—and worst—case of writer’s block came the one and only time I attempted NaNoWriMo. I didn’t understand why the pressure of putting roughly 1600 words down on paper every day for a month completely shut down my ability to write, I just knew that it did. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the concept of NaNo, to write without editing, committing to a minimum word count every day without fail, logging in your words with a community each day, was the antithesis of how I write. I tend to massage a text as I go along, changing things as ideas come into my head, as I see underlying themes I want to develop more clearly. I also frequently write out of sequence, so nothing about NaNo was intuitive for me. It’s no surprise that I failed.
The bigger surprise was that the intimidation of the blank page lingered well past my decision to bail on NaNo. In many ways, it impacted most of 2012 for me, resulting in my only major production for the year being a novella. The irony is that prior to attempting NaNo, I was writing the equivalent of a novella a month. I thought NaNo would be a piece of cake.
This is the ‘classic’ writer’s block, the kind writers dread. It’s the staring at the blinking cursor and having no words come. It’s the avoidance of the laptop for weeks on end, piddling around on Facebook or Tumblr and not jotting down a single word. I can tell you, this kind of writer’s block must be treated firmly. This is where you tell yourself that water will never flow from a faucet until you turn the handle. Sure, the words might be rusty at first, and only trickle out, but with time, the pressure will build, the flow will improve, and the rust will clear. This is when it is imperative to write something every day, even if all you do is record your dreams, or recall a childhood memory, or keep a daily journal. Waiting for ‘inspiration’ or your ‘Muse’ is a losing proposition here. You have to forge on ahead without it. If you persist, you’ll find your Muse racing to catch up with you.
Another common kind of block comes from the natural inclination to take a break when you’ve finished a major story and you’ve just hit ‘send’ to the publisher. This is perfectly understandable. Don’t be in too much of a rush to dive into the next story. Take the time to recharge your creative batteries. Read. Watch movies. These acts don’t just relax your brain—you’re also unconsciously absorbing how to tell more stories. A good book, television show, or movie illustrates pacing, characterization, and plotting. Don’t waste your time on bad stuff. You have to expose yourself to good material in order to become a better writer yourself. But don’t take too long to start writing again. If you’re like me, the post-production blues can stretch out the entire time you’re waiting for a contract from the publisher. Start your next story within a few weeks. If you can’t manage that, then write something just for you. Fanfic, or original fic, it doesn’t matter. It’s a palate cleanser, not the main course. Just exercise those writing muscles before they atrophy.
Sometimes you’re zipping along on a story and all the sudden, you find yourself stuck on a scene. It can be helpful to set the work aside a few days in order to let your subconscious work out the knots. Quite often this kind of block is because there is something inherently wrong with the story or scene and you need to figure it out before you can proceed. Some writers have set aside their stalled projects for years—according to George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones began as a single scene about a white wolf. He had no idea what to do with it, so he put it in a drawer for ten years and worked on other things. One day, the rest of the story began speaking to him and he wrote it. I’m not sure I could sit on a story that long and still come back to it, but if you’re going to let this method work for you, it helps to be the kind of person who can work on more than one story at a time. My advice even then is let it marinate for a little while, but if you can’t pick it up again in a matter of weeks, try writing out of sequence. It’s incredibly liberating. Sometimes when I write in a linear fashion, my characters get bogged down in the bathroom preparing to leave the apartment and they never actually leave. Picture your favorite movie. Did we follow Luke Skywalker around his family farm while he did the evening chores? No, we did not. Writing out of sequence allows you to write the scene that calls to you the most, the one you can see the most clearly at the time. Worry about where it fits in later. Just write it.
So, you can probably guess my advice for writer’s block is don’t let it intimidate you, and don’t be its bitch, either. By far and large, the answer to writer’s block is write something, anything, even if it is only personal musings. My favorite means of battling writer’s block is going back to my fanfic roots. Why? Because I already love the characters and the universe. There is less world-building and more ‘cut to the chase’. I can let ‘er rip and just have fun. And that kind of writing, my friends, begets more of the same. Ideas ignite other ideas, and before you know it, you’re back in business again.
Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a large dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. An amateur photographer and a former competitor in the horse sport known as eventing, when she's not out hiking with the dog or down at the stables, she's at the laptop working on her next story. When she’s in the middle of a chapter, she relies on the smoke detector to tell her dinner is ready. She writes because it’s cheaper than therapy.
Sarah Madison was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards and is the winner of Best M/M Romance in the 2013 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards.
Winner’s Prize: E-copy of The Boys of Summer
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