Here’s a sneak peak at the sell copy (or back cover copy) that’s going to be released with the short story, BERT AND BETTY. The weird thing about this is that I can write two to three thousand words a day without a problem. But writing this took almost two hours.
Bert and Betty, happily married and looking to add some romantic spice to their lives, conceive a harmless little game of passion – a bold and exciting improvisation that requires an airplane, some acting talent and a great deal of imagination. And Betty is always able to conjure up something creative.
But there are rules to the game that must be followed: they have to pretend they are total strangers the minute they enter the airport, they have to invent completely different lives, and they both have to be open and willing to the element of danger their little game invokes. And on this particular flight to Nebraska, the danger involves two good looking young men in the next aisle who want to play the game, too.
Betty is always willing to try anything naughty, but she’s not so sure about Bert. He tends to be more conservative about some things and he’s not fond of surprises. So she decides to capture the moment, crossing the line and plunging into an erotic adventure she never expected, without bothering to tell him. But it turns out that she is actually the one who is left with her mouth hanging open in the end.
I had a nice surprise yesterday. A short story titled, BERT AND BETTY, came in as a runner up for Ravenous Rendezvous. This was one of those stories I’d had floating around in my head for a long time but didn’t have time to actually write. And when I received the call about the short story contest, I decided to take the weekend and finally do it. I’d been working on deadlines since last June and I didn’t want the story to suffer because I wasn’t focused on the plot. But it was snowing outside, there wasn’t much to do that weekend, and the story started to flow in a way that doesn’t always happen. I already had a few goals and I felt as though I knew the characters well. I wanted them to be ordinary people taking a routine flight, but I also wanted something extraordinary to happen to them while they were on that flight.
When the first draft was finished, I felt that something was missing. The characters were okay, but they lacked something I couldn’t pigeonhole. You know when something just isn’t right. So I decided to take a break and think about it for a day or so. Bert and Betty were originally written as two strangers. He’s the good looking, innocent divorced guy and she’s the well seasoned business woman who always takes what she wants. And when she sees Bert in the airport, she goes after him without thinking twice. There’s also another twist to the plot that takes the story to another level, and that part was fine. It’s just that Bert and Betty were flat and I wanted them to be true romantics.
I was almost ready to give up on the story and not enter the contest, and then I had one of those waves of inspiration that tend hit while I’m either driving or jogging and there’s no paper around to write it down. Why did Bert And Betty have to be strangers? Why couldn’t they be a married couple pretending to be strangers? I had to re-write the story several times in order to get the facts right; I didn’t have much time because there was a short deadline and I was working on another novel at the same time. But after several re-writes and a lot of black coffee, I finally felt satisfied with the changes. And Bert and Betty went from being single strangers to a happily married couple with their own secret game of romance and intrigue.
The point of this story is that I’ve learned to wait before submitting when I have a feeling something isn’t working. The story might be neat and clean and ready to go, but if there’s a nagging feeling that it could be changed in some way I hold off and think about it for a while. I’ve had things published that editors thought were fine, but I wasn’t happy with the final product. And that can haunt you for a long time. So I’ve learned to wait before submitting, because the solution to the problem usually comes sooner or later.