I’m working to put up my first indie novel, THE ADULTERER’S UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO FAMILY VACATIONS, for sale as an ebook in the next few days. I’m a bit nervous.
I’ve done this before – I got the rights to my four-book Bombay Greatest Hits series from my publisher over a year ago. I designed new covers for them, formatted them and got them up.
In November, I put up my first novella, PARADISE BY THE RIFLE SIGHTS, a continuation of the Bombay Saga for fans. The fabulous Lori Devoti formatted it for Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes and Noble at the NINC conference in October.
But this is something new. And that worries me.
THE ADULTERER’S UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO FAMILY VACATIONS, while being consistent with the obnoxiously long titles I’ve had before, is a completely different book. It’s not a mystery. It’s not part of the Bombay Series. There’s a lot more sex in it. And it deals with the subject of adultery.
New York liked the book back in the day – but wouldn’t come near it because of the “A” word. Now I have the chance to do it myself. I even had a beta reader who went through a divorce because of adultery read it. She loved it. In the story, the two people who have the affair are stuck in bad, beyond fixable marriages. She got that. And the book is still humor – so it’s in my wheelhouse (provided I’m using the word ‘wheelhouse’ correctly).
Gemma Halliday loved it and gave me an excellent cover quote. One of my critique partners loved it – and said she felt like she needed a cold shower after reading each love scene. I must admit – those scenes and the idea of any of my relatives reading them, makes me nervous.
And still, I worry.
Maybe it’s because this is the first, single title book I’ll be putting up with my name on it. Maybe it’s the potential controversy – but my series is about a family of assassins – so this shouldn’t be too new.
At any rate, I’ve got to Author-Up and do it and just see what happens. Right?
Here’s a short excerpt:
Luggage to the right of me. Luggage to the left of me. Luggage behind me. Packed and Bursting. Too much luggage, in fact. Way more than we needed. I sighed – something I did far too often anymore. So, I opened all four bags up and started over. This was my ritual. The thing that kept me sane while I got ready for the family trip. I couldn’t wait. This vacation would be an antidote to my robotic life.
And it kept my mind off, well, the other thing. Mike had missed dinner yet again. In fact, it was more normal than not for him to spend less than ten minutes with us a day.
I packed the first bag, then stopped to listen. Jenny and Ben were either asleep, or plotting a military junta. But silence is a rare commodity and should never be questioned. So I kept working.
After two hours, I had it done. Down to three bags full of enough clothes for a family of four to have a wonderful vacation at the greatest theme park in the world. Unfortunately, I still had to put away laundry, grade more essays, unload the dishwasher, and so on. My list rarely changed from night to night.
Not that it mattered, but I was a pro by this time. And it was worth it. My twin kindergartners were wonderful. I had my big dream house, a good, part-time teaching gig, and a . . . well, a marriage to a . . . man.
You noticed a few adjectives missing, didn’t you? After checking the driveway from my bedroom window for the twentieth time, I ran a hot bubble bath and slipped into it.
I suppose most women would consider me lucky. After all, I have the American dream, right? Hmmm. I don’t feel so lucky. I soaked until my skin wrinkled, then got out, checked the driveway again and climbed into bed with a novel. Somewhere along the line, I fell asleep. And I might note that it was the most exciting part of my day.
The alarm went off and I found Mike, my husband, snoring beside me, reaffirming that I was actually married to a living, breathing human and not an imaginary friend. I sighed again and got up, dressed and roused the kids.
Mike made a grand appearance at breakfast and the kids fell upon him like he was a conquering hero. I had to give him credit, he looked great. It only took him half an hour to go from sleeping hulk to well-dressed czar of advertising and all-around bastard.
He tickled the kids, grabbed a banana and winked good-bye to me. It was the only evidence of my existence. For one brief, shining moment, my husband remembered me.
I shouldn’t complain. The kids need him more. And I’m grateful they don’t feel sorry for the fact that they didn’t see him much. That’s the great thing about children – their total and complete self-absorption. In a few minutes, I’d drop them off at school and they too would forget I existed. I was a ghost with my own mini-van.
Work was a little better. The students only singled me out if they had trouble with an assignment, and either I was such an amazing instructor that they didn’t need help or such a boring one they didn’t really care. I was only teaching one class this semester. Technically, I was on sabbatical to finish my doctoral thesis, but the administration asked me to teach one class, so like the doormat I’d become, I agreed to keep working.
Jenny and Ben’s mom-nesia ended every day at 3pm, when they came squealing out of Rutherford B. Hayes Elementary. The drive home consisted of mostly filling each other in on their day. I just got to listen in. Once again, I thought how smart I was to insist they be put in separate classes. Of course, I was the only one who congratulated me on this.
By four o’clock, I’d gone through their backpacks, emptied their lunchboxes, signed any permission slips, etc. The kids were outside on the swing set, laughing about our upcoming trip to Florida. They probably didn’t realize how much it meant to me too.
I wasn’t always like this. In fact, I’m kind of surprised I ended up this way. I used to think of myself as a live wire. My old friends used to say I was funny. Mike used to molest me every minute he was in my presence. I was into the arts and haute couture (well, at least as far as handbags and shoes are concerned). Isn’t it weird how things change? Right now, I can relate to those valium wives from the 1950’s.
I roam my own hallways as a phantom. Somehow, my family never seems to notice that the laundry gets done, the house is picked up, dinner mysteriously appears on the table, and then cleans up after itself. Instead of being my children’s idol and my husband’s lover, I’m a funny little footnote in my own life.
Yeesh. That’s terrible. How am I supposed to write my thesis with that kind of attitude? After another Mike-less dinner, I sat on my bed with my laptop, working on page forty-four. At least I loved the theme. Adultery in Literature. It was a naughty little secret I shared with myself. Oooh.
Two more days to go. Two more days until my family had to spend every minute with me. I can let loose. Be funny. Have fun. Was I in a rut or what? Maybe that was Anna Karenina’s problem. She needed a little excitement. And with no theme parks (or any other fun aside from drinking in nineteenth century Russia), Anna vodka-goggled Count Vronsky.
Hester Prynne’s husband wasn’t around either. And Lord Chatterley wasn’t much in the bedroom for Constance. I guess I have more in common with these women than I thought.
My name is Laura Smith. See? Even my last name is boring. I typed this on my laptop – as if writing it down would make me real. After forty years, most women would think I’ve got it goin’ on. But the truth? Well, I can’t handle the truth.
My God. I’m not even funny anymore. I used to have a sense of humor, but it was replaced with a sense of responsibility. And don’t even ask me about passion. That’s something other people have.
Was that true? There must be something interesting about me. I flinched instantly recalling a repressed memory. Okay, I’ve had a recent, sordid past. But I can’t think about that now. Maybe not ever.
I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m feeling sorry for myself. Not true. That would be more emotion than I’ve allowed myself in the past few years. And emotion just ain’t worth the trouble.
My life is safe. And that’s something I’m qualified to deal with. Safe. Yep. Just what every girl wants.