UPDATE: The winner is Fedora!
My writing journey resembles a spiral that took me from writing for newspapers through seminary and ministry to writing romance in retirement. I have a journalism background and worked as a stringer for awhile. Writing fiction during that time had always been a way to make the world come round right after a day of covering stories when everything in the world was all wrong. When I became involved in the church, writing remained a hobby, but I did it less and less.
Then I became an X-Files fan, and I entered the heady fun-filled world of fan fiction under the name Rev. Anna. I really enjoyed myself making up stories again. A challenge from my mother-in-law to put my energy into writing my own characters came at the same time the radio program “This American Life” did a segment on Romance Writers of America national meeting in NYC. Jeanette’s challenge and that segment lit a “Why not?” fire in my writing soul. I joined RWA in 2003, joined chapters, entered contests, won a few, and finally got published in 2008. By then, I’d attended a retirement seminar that encouraged us to start thinking now about what we wanted to do in retirement. Another “Why not?” flame ignited, and now here I am an erotic romance writing retired minister.
Excerpt from “Put It in a Book”
Trapped in a book by a sorcerer for rejecting his sexual advances,
an ex-slave’s daughter discovers one hope of rescue – a nosy thief
Aziza, if you want to hide something from Black folk, put it in a book.
If her father had said this once, he’d said it a hundred times. As the daughter of a freed slave, Aziza Williams had resolved with every book she’d read, with every bit of content she’d memorized, no one would hide anything in a book from her.
How ironic the adage was being used against her now that she lived in the Free and Independent Republic of Liberia. Only someone as evil as Dulee Morlu could leave her stranded in a book.
Each time he removed The Story of Aziza from its shelf in his library, he’d badger, cajole, even plead with anyone present to read it.
“This book will change your life,” he’d say in a tone, always enticing, sometimes seductive, but never serious enough for anyone to take him up on the offer.
When they’d gone, he’d pressed his mouth to her image on the flyleaf. “No one will ever read your story,” he whispered with snake-like malice. His laugh bruised her heart each time he congratulated himself on his ingenuity. “You will remain hidden in these pages until you give yourself to me.”
Never had been her answer when he’d propositioned her a week after she’d arrived in Liberia. Never was her answer when he’d caught her pleasuring herself by the river’s edge after her morning swim. Never remained her answer from the day she’d awakened entombed within the pages of her own story to this.
How often had hope flared at the possibility of someone opening these pages and setting her free?
How many times had Morlu’s possessive grip caressed her prison’s spine, his wet thumb sliding down the edges of its pages?
“Everyone I’ve imprisoned yielded within a day. You’ve resisted for thirty,” he exclaimed. “I must dedicate a chapter to your resilience.”
He splayed his fingers across her prison’s pages, too accurately mimicking the spreading of her thighs. Her captive limbs shuddered. His calloused finger slid along the book’s gutter. Her inert hands tensed, unable to shield herself from the erotic—albeit vicarious—chafing his touch provoked.
“Your opposition makes your eventual capitulation that much sweeter.” He slid his finger faster, deeper between the pages. “And make no mistake…you will surrender.”
Each time he placed her back on the shelf, he planted a cold kiss on the book’s spine. Aziza quivered against the chill, unable to staunch the revulsion roiling in her throat—or at least, where she imagined her throat might still be.
“Until then,” he whispered.
Her spirit cringed at those words. She’d escaped from plantation owners eager to punish her for secretly teaching slaves to read. Her spirit had remained unbowed after fourteen harrowing weeks crossing the Atlantic. Even the hardships that had killed more than three-quarters of all who had emigrated to Liberia hadn’t vanquished her. If neither threats to her life nor dangers at sea nor the high mortality rate could defeat her, she’d be damned if this self-serving sorcerer would.
Her imprisonment seemed an unending stream of consciousness, punctuated only by Morlu’s uninvited intrusions. Thirty days. This sudden awareness of time weighed on her spirit and threatened to undo her.
How much longer could she hold out?
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Better to Marry Than to Burn.