Like any debut author’s journey, this past year has been one filled with many firsts. Last week, I experienced yet another first, and I dare say it was downright scary.
At least in the beginning.
I am the co-founder of Lady Jane’s Salon–Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction. The Naperville location is a spin-off of the original Lady Jane’s Salon in New York. I visited the New York location last week and, for the first time, read my work to a live audience.
Most would think it wasn’t a big deal. I’ve read those pages hundreds of times. I’ve even read them aloud (I read all my manuscripts aloud for proofing purposes before I turn them in.).
It shouldn’t have been a big deal.
Except, the morning of the reading, it suddenly hit me that I’d have to stand in front of an audience (on a small stage no less!) and put my work—work that I’ve cried and moaned and dreamed about—out there to be judged. Sure, my books get reviewed regularly, but there’s a time lapse there. The reader’s reaction isn’t immediate. And I’m certainly not standing in front of them when they have that reaction. J
So, yes, I felt a bit of pressure. It was good pressure though. The kind of pressure that fuels something inside me and makes me believe I can battle my fears by simply getting on that stage.
I was pleasantly surprised when all my angst and worry disappeared the second I started reading. I was immediately pulled back to the days of sitting at my computer, writing Kristen and Billy’s story and my heart literally raced with excitement. There’s something magical about writing a book. It’s hard, agonizing labor, but when the ideas are flowing and the characters are winning their battle, it’s euphoric.
At one point during my reading, I experienced a bout of emotional upheaval when Kristen admitted her biggest insecurity to Billy. I literally had to pause and check myself. If I’m being honest, it was a wonderful moment for me because it reminded me why I love to write. I love exploring emotional growth in my characters, and the scene I was reading represented the first time Kristen felt she could be vulnerable in front of Billy. For the first time, she trusted him with her heart. She took a risk by showing him her deepest, ugliest insecurity.
It takes guts, doesn’t it? To open ourselves up? To risk being judged? For me, as a writer, when characters take that step, when they not only face their fears, but slay them, that’s where the magic happens.
Readers, what do you find magical about reading?
Bio: Adrienne Giordano is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane's Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction. For more information on Adrienne's Private Protectors series please visit www.AdrienneGiordano.com. Adrienne can also be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AdrienneGiordanoAuthor and Twitter at http://twitter.com/AdriennGiordano.
Adrienne’s books available at:
In case you’re curious about the scene I read at Lady Jane’s Salon, here it is:
After Kristen’s meeting, Billy squeezed his six-foot-three body into her Aston and decided if they were going to be traveling by car together, they’d be making arrangements for something with more leg room. This trip, she drove him to a two-story, pristine duplex on Palm Island just off the causeway.
He surveyed the area where the waning sun washed over the driveway. He knew Kristen’s father lived on Palm Island with some of Miami’s wealthiest inhabitants and security was tight. Yep, if tourists wanted to have a gander, they needed to check in with the guard at the entrance to the island.
Somehow, Billy didn’t think this conservative duplex belonged to her father. From what he knew of Tom Dante, the man liked flash. Still, red tiles on the roof gave the concrete block stucco some sass, and a small patch of grass was well-tended and anchored with hardy red and yellow flowers. All in all, a nice, well-kept home.
“Where are we?”
She stepped to the garage door, punched in a code. “My house. You wanted a car and I’ve got one.”
The door slid up in silence. Impressive. An older model dark green sedan sat on the right side of the two-car garage. What was M.H. doing with this piece of shiznet car? He glanced at Kristen still standing at the entrance to the garage, then did a quick walk around the car. A few scratches here and there and paint chips on the driver’s side door. Banged up just enough. Not to mention boring as hell. Perfect.
“Whose car is this?”
Billy spun back to the Aston, its metallic flecks gleaming in the Florida sun. “You went from this P.O.S.—” he pointed to the sedan then to the Aston, “—to that?”
Screw the filter. “Sorry, but still. Hell of a shock.”
“The green one is my old car. It’s seven years old.”
Why she kept that drab grandma car when she had the Aston, Billy couldn’t fathom. “So, the green one is what, the airport car?”
“What’s an airport car?”
“It’s the car people leave at the airport when they travel because it’s such a piece of crap no one would bother to steal it.”
“That’s a good idea, but no.” She waved at the sedan. “It just sits here.”
Now she stared at the car. Studying it. “I can’t let it go.”
Considering he didn’t own anything but his clothes and camera, understanding emotional attachments to items would never be his strong point. Which meant he was far from qualified to analyze the fact that she couldn’t dump a crappy sedan when she had an Aston Martin. Call him crazy, but that was fudging ridiculous. He nodded though, pretended to understand. “You should sell it. Or, even better, donate it. Someone can make use of it.”
But M.H. was still staring at the P.O.S. car.
Maybe nothing. “Kris, you’ve got this smoking hot Aston. What the hell do you need this one for?”
“I don’t need it.”
What exactly were they talking about? She didn’t need it, but she kept it. Again he hesitated, tried to make sense of it, but being a guy who didn’t own a car, it made zero—sub-zero—sense. He blew raspberries. “So get rid of it.”
But the look she gave him, her eyes big and wide and searching suggested that was a dumb-ass idea. What she needed from him, nary a clue.
“I can’t,” she said.
She leaned one hip against the car and patted it. “Because it’s me.”
Blood roared to his head. Go, go, go. With his gaze still on her, he imagined the filter fanning out. Did my head just explode? “Huh?”
Looking down at her feet, she shook her head. “Let me get the keys.”
He reached for her. “What did you mean by that? It’s you?”
A squawking bird flew by the open garage nearly missing the palm tree in front of the house. Her gaze wandered to the tree, then to the ceiling, the wall, her shoe. Billy stayed focused on Kristen now staring out the garage. That tree won’t save you, sweet cheeks.
She finally looked at him, their eyes connecting for a second and Billy knew, sure as he was standing there, he wouldn’t like what she was thinking. “It’s nothing. I’m blathering.”
When she stepped toward the house, he shifted to block her. “We’re not leaving until you tell me.”
“I need to get back. Let me pass and I’ll get the keys.”
He crossed his arms and sidestepped when she tried to get around him. “Nobody goes anywhere until you tell me what you meant. I will pin you to the ground if I have to.” A gasping sound filled the garage and he shrugged. “Don’t sound so shocked. This shouldn’t surprise you.”
“You’d hold me hostage in my own garage? I don’t believe it.”
“Try me. Please.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “I’d get the double bonus of being on top of you.” With her hang-ups about her figure, he made sure to keep his eyes glued to her face. But, really, he wanted to look elsewhere. Elsewhere being about eight inches lower. Filter. “Just imagine what that would do to me.”
Being the cuteness that she was, she pinched her lips together and scrunched her nose. “I hate you sometimes.”
“I’ll live with it. Now spill.”
“We’re not having a big discussion about this. It’s my problem. Got it?”
“My father gave me the Aston last year. I drove this car for six years before that.” She walked back to the Aston and, like the day in front of the hotel, eased her hand over the hood and let it settle there. “Look at it. It’s gorgeous. Breathtaking even. Sleek and lean and sexy.”
She turned back to him and stared right smack into his eyes. “This car, Billy, is everything I am not. When the top is down, and I’m behind the wheel, I feel it. I feel the vibe—the power—and it makes me forget I’m a fat Amazon.”
Did he hear that right? He cocked his head, replayed it in his mind while that frapping bird squawked.
That’s what she’d said. For a second, his mind reeled. Not unusual for him, but in this particular instance he found himself speechless. When’s the last time that oddity had occurred? Maybe once. In the fourth grade. During recess… Concentrate here, pal.
He didn’t know what was more offensive, the fat Amazon comment or the car—an object with no life, no vibrancy—being everything she wasn’t.
“And what?” He gestured to the butt-ugly sedan. “You think this is what you are? This boring piece of crap that wouldn’t grab anyone’s attention? That’s what you think?”
On the street, a car went by. The driver gave the horn a shot and waved. Kristen waved back. Probably a neighbor. She turned back to him and the hard stare she gave him might have been a warning. He wasn’t sure. “You’re out of your mind. Have you looked in a mirror lately? Or are you blind as well as crazy? I mean,” he jerked his hands toward her. “You’ve got the whole ethereal look with the green eyes and dynamite curves. It’s sweet and hot at the same time and it destroys me. Destroys me.”
Her face contorted into opened-mouth horror and she threw her hands up. “Filter!”
“I get a pass this time.” He shoved his hands into his hair and gripped the strands. “I cannot believe this piece of crap car is how you see yourself.”
Maybe he shouldn’t have said that because she stepped closer and got right into his grill. “Don’t you dare judge me. Try growing up with Jess, who popped out of her mother flawless, and watch her grow and listen to people tell her how stunning she is. And then have those same people turn to you and ask how school is. Don’t come here and think you—who also popped out of your mother gorgeous—can tell me you can’t believe it. In my world, Jess is the Aston and I’m the boring sedan.”
Refusing to give in, he inched closer backing her against the driver’s door of the Aston. “You’re boring?”
She angled backward. “Compared to Jess? Yes.”
With her hand on his chest, she gave him a shove. “Back off.”
He stepped closer. “You’re not boring. Yeah, you’re smart. So what? How many thirty- year-old women run billion-dollar hotels? And it’s not because of your father. Your father is a brutal businessman. He wouldn’t let his kid run his hotel if she couldn’t do it. You don’t see Jess running a property do you?” He inched even closer, felt her hot breath on his face. “If I could play back the first time I saw you in that ballroom, I’d show you what I see.” He ran his hands over her hips and pulled her close. “That amazing dress glued to your curves. You wouldn’t think you were boring if you knew all the things I wanted to do to you that night. And, if you hadn’t noticed, I still want to do those things to you.”
She breathed in, soft yet harsh, and brought her gaze to his, still refusing to give in. “Filter.” Her voice, in contrast to the hard look she gave, ruptured. “Please. Filter.”
“No. If ever you didn’t need me to filter it’s right now.” He grabbed her around the back of the neck and kissed her. Just slammed his lips against hers, pressing himself into her as she backed into the car. And then her arms came around him and she ignited, returning the kiss with equal force. It sent him spiraling.
He’d stand here all day like this. No question. Well, maybe he wanted more than a kiss from this particular woman, but it was a start. To his happy amazement, he adored her and the more time they spent together, the more time he wanted.
Assuming he’d made his point, he backed away. “Was that boring?”
She shoved him. “Don’t be an ass.”
“It was amazing. You made it amazing.”
She crossed her arms and leaned against the car. “It’s too much for me. You are too much for me. You live on the edge all the time, constantly moving and thinking and doing something. I don’t have the fortitude for that. I’m a boring sedan. That’s where I’m comfortable. What’s wrong with that?”
“If what you see is a fat Amazon, I think there’s plenty wrong.”
“I love how you gorgeous people think you can pay us not-so-stunning people a compliment and think we immediately have to believe it. Guess what, Billy? I’ve had plenty of men who look like you tell me I’m all that you said. And then the minute my sister shows up and starts flirting, they all forgot about me in order to bag my sister. So, don’t you dare come into my life and tell me how I should see myself. You haven’t earned that right.”
Of course he hadn’t. That took time and they hadn’t had much of that. One thing he knew was he planned on taking that time. However he could. With his schedule, he couldn’t guess how it would happen, but he’d make it work. Suddenly, that’s what he wanted. To be spend more time near Kristen. And didn’t that revelation rock his totally anti-settled world?
“I may never earn it. But I’ll keep trying. If nothing else, I want you to look at yourself and see what I see. Since I got here I’ve met any number of stunning—and I mean stunning—women. Five minutes after seeing them, I couldn’t tell you what one of them looked like. Nope, when I close my eyes, I see your face, and in my extremely experienced opinion, sweet cheeks, boring women aren’t that memorable. Even if I never put my hands on you again, by the time I leave here, I’ll make you see what I see.”
Kristen backed up a full step. “I don’t need to see what you see.”
“Yeah, honey, you do. What I see will blow your mind. You’ll never again look at that shitty—dang it—sedan and think it’s you. Is that a problem?”
A few seconds passed and she kept her gaze on his, clearly battling to keep control of her emotions. Eventually, she closed her eyes, shook her head and sighed. “Would it even matter?”
He laughed. “Probably not.”
“I’m told it’s not always a good thing.”
“That’s for sure.”
That stung. A rather unpleasant feeling in this Billy-learning-to-filter class. He probably deserved it. No probably about it. He’d pushed her. Maybe too far. “Lucky for me, your sister has given you experience with it. You’re more forgiving than most.”
“Not that forgiving.”
“But you see beyond the pain-in-the-ass stuff. That, Ms. Dante, is your magic bullet. You take the time to see more than most. I love that about you.”
“I like to consider the potential rather than the negatives.”
He took her hand, ran his thumb over her knuckles and enjoyed the quiet of standing with her after their argument. “For everyone else. Not when it comes to you. I’m going to change it.”
Slowly, with a lopsided smirk, she eased her head side to side. Slightly amused was better than hacked off. He may have just bailed his ass out of this one. “I’m guessing your silence means you don’t have any issues with it?”
“I’ll give you some latitude. Some.”
“Good enough. Now get me the keys for this piece-of-crap, boring-as-hell car that is so not you.”
Adrienne's latest release is:
You call this a mission? Yeah, ex-Army Ranger and Taylor Securities operative Billy Tripp screwed up. So instead of being assigned to a dangerous international mission, he's sent to babysit a pricey necklace at a trendy South Beach hotel. The only bright side to the assignment is working with the manager, smoking-hot hotel heiress Kristen Dante. Kristen's worked hard to build her father's Miami hotel into a jet-set destination. She's confident in business but not so much with men. What could a sexy guy like Billy want with her when he could have someone like her beautiful, party-girl sister? There's a reason Billy's known as Mr. Relentless. He doesn't give up. Not on a job, or on the woman he wants. So when three luxury cars go missing from the hotel's lot, Billy sets out to find the thief. Suddenly, he has a case with the risks he thrives on. But when his investigation leads to Kristen being threatened, the real danger is losing his heart.
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