Catherine West lives with her husband and two teenagers on the beautiful island of Bermuda. She enjoys an active church life, where she is presently involved in Women's Ministry, as well as serving in the community as a volunteer for Bermuda Riding for the Disabled. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Wordserve Literary. Catherine writes Contemporary Romance and Women's Fiction. She hopes not only to entertain her readers, but also to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ through her books. Visit Catherine at her website www.catherinewest.ca
I close my eyes and relax under the sun’s rays warming my sunscreen-slathered skin. Waves roll up the beach with a whoosh. Children’s happy cries tickle my ears whilst the scent of coconut soothes my weary soul.
“Another drink, Madam?” Speaking of coconuts. I open one eye and smile at the young man. Lovely. I mean, another fruity drink would be lovely.
“Ah. Yes, please.” I push myself up in the lounge chair and avert my eyes as the young man saunters away with my empty glass. Looking that good should be outlawed. Probably is.
Okay, back to reading. As I pick up my book, Dreamer, a new release from one of my favorite women’s fiction authors, the melodious theme song from The Notebook flows from my cell phone.
I check the caller ID to see who it is I’m about to yell at, and press the green button. Where would we be without color codes? “Am I making money yet?”
My agent’s amused laughter crackles down the line. “Not yet. But I’ve got a deal for you.”
“What kind of deal?” I grin and curl my pink-painted toes in anticipation.
“You’re changing course. I want you to stop writing Women’s Fiction and write Chick Lit instead. Insider info says the genre’s on the upswing again. Houses will be clamoring for it by the end of the week.”
“Say what?” Hottie bar boy appears on cue with my frozen drink and I guzzle it without thinking. Brain freeze . . . “Arrggh.”
“Catherine? It’s not that bad . . . think about it—”
“No.” I make a quick recovery. “The idea is preposterous. I don’t have the slightest inclination to write Chick Lit. I write Women’s Fiction and I’m good at it. I prefer to write in a genre where I can use words that are found in the dictionary.”
She laughs again. I’m seriously thinking of firing her. “I think you should consider it. Chocoholic just came out and it’s already made over five hundred thousand dollars in sales. We’re talking big bucks here.”
I stretch and cover my face with a yellow floppy hat. “Five hundred thousand, huh?” No. Impossible. It’s not about the money. “I’m a serious author. My stories have depth, insight, wisdom. Spiritual takeaways. My last two books were best sellers!”
“Agreed, Woe Is Me and God, Fix My Life did do well, but I’m telling you, this is high concept now. People don’t want to cry, they want to laugh. We’re in a recession over here, you know.”
“I know.” A twinge of sympathy pricks my conscience. Who am I to complain, living on a subtropical paradise fraught with corruption, rising crime, and houses nobody can afford? At least our last election didn’t put an alien from another planet in power. Not that we’ve been able to prove,. “I can’t write quirky. I don’t even have a quirky name. Catherine . . . it oozes women’s fiction, romance—”
“We’re changing it to C.J. Your lawyer’s already on it. What’s not to love about writing Chick Lit? You like to shop, right?”
“Shop?” My traitorous eyebrows hike above my designer shades. “I could do with another pair of shoes.” A gaggle of girls stroll past in a blaze of Lily Pulitzer. Buffy, Muffy, and Britny. I recognize
them as babysitters I’ve fired. Britny with one t and no e almost burned the house down trying to cook a hot dog and talk on the phone to her boyfriend at the same time. My four-year-old ordered pizza that night.
Ten pizzas, to be exact.
Hmmm . . .
Puffy white clouds float in from the west, casting shadows over the azure sea. A couple walk by, arm in arm. They stop as she bends to retrieve a shell from the sand. Even from this vantage point I see the love in their eyes as she shows it to him. If I’m not mistaken, they’re the ones who were rumored to be on the brink of divorce just last year.
“No!” I gather my things and stalk up the beach. “I can’t do it. Life isn’t about shopping and manicures and hot bartenders.” Did I say that out loud? “It’s about the grit of relationships gone wrong, dying children, God stepping in and doing the impossible . . . it’s angst!”
“Angst is dead. They want humor—to be entertained by loveable young heroines whose husbands aren’t having affairs or dying on them. By women who don’t worry about earning enough to pay the electric bill. Besides, Oprah’s endorsing it.”
“Oprah?” I scurry over the hot tarmac of the parking lot to my cherry red VW convertible. I click the automatic lock. It beeps and I smile. I love Oprah.
“Yep. Write the book—it comes out by the end of next month. You’re scheduled to appear two days after that.”
I roll my eyes and hope this call is costing her a ton of money. “I suppose the book already has a title?”
“Frantic, Fiery, and Mal-Adjusted.”
“I’ll get right on it,” I mutter, sliding onto hot leather. I turn the key, gun the engine, and fiddle with the AC. Mal-adjusted I can do. “Does it have to be funny?”
“Okay, but . . .” I back up and narrowly miss hitting old Mr. Brunshweiger on his electric three-wheeler. “Get a license for that thing would ya?” He gives me a cheerful wave as I drive off. At least I think he’s waving. “Can somebody die? I mean, no blood or anything but . . .”
“No. Happy, happy, happy. Gotta run. Send me your first draft when you’re done.”
Nobody told me today was the end of the world. I pull over and take a moment. My cell rings again. If that’s my agent . . .
“Hon?” My husband’s sexy voice.
“Wha . . .?” I open my eyes and glance around. I’m still on the beach, my book lying open on my chest. I must have fallen asleep. Relief floods through me and I breathe a silent prayer of thanks. “I’m here. But I just had the most awful dream . . .”
“Sorry to hear that, but listen, your agent just called the house. You need to call her back right away. Something about a new book deal…”