Thirty-something Grace Savage has slogged through crummy jobs and dead-end relationships with men who would rather go bald than say “I do”. In search of respite from her current job, she visits Shaker Village in New Hampshire. Instead of renewal, she’s unnerved to learn that Shaker men and women lived and worked side by side in complete celibacy. When her longtime boyfriend dumps her instead of proposing, Grace avows the sexless Shaker ways. Resolved to stick to her new plan – dubbed the Shaker Plan – despite ovaries ticking like time bombs, she returns to her life in Pennsylvania. Almost immediately, she's juggling two eligible bachelors: Addison, a young beat reporter; and True, a venerable anthropology professor. Both men have ample charms and soul mate potential to test her newfound Shaker-style self-control, and Grace appears to be on the fast track to a marriage proposal… until secrets revealed deliver a death rattle to the Shaker Plan.
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While readers want someone they can care about in a protagonist, they also need villains. Villains often stir up the circumstances that give readers reasons to care about your protagonists. So give them a heaping helping of villainy in your fiction. It takes a villain to write a book. Or two. Sometimes the more villains, the more memorable the book.
Protagonists need trouble with a capital T.
One of the simplest formulas for storytelling goes like this: Stick your central character up a tree. Throw stones at her. Don't let her return safely to the ground until the very end of the story.
Though writers tend to fall in love with their protagonists, unlike those we love in real life, we shouldn't try to protect characters from trouble. Let them skin their knees, encounter a world of trouble, or feel a universe of hurt. Or all three. Every time your character gets picked on, shot at, or dumped, you've given your reader chances to bond with her.
In GRACE UNEXPECTED, Grace Savage gets dumped by her longtime boyfriend on her thirty-fifth birthday. She can hear her ovaries ticking. She never really imagined herself as someone living alone or without children for the rest of her adult life. Some things you simply can't plan--like someone else falling in love with you and wanted to make a life together. So, this boyfriend abandoning her at this time in her life puts her in somewhat desperate straits if she was hoping to have natural children.
Since Grace is no goodie-two-shoes--she has some casual ideas about sex, for instance--the reader needs a reason to care about her right away. I used the break-up to help win the reader over to her side.
Gale Martin is an award-winning writer of contemporary fiction who plied her childhood penchant for lying into a legitimate literary pursuit during midlife. She began writing her first novel at age eleven, finally finishing her first book three decades later.
Her debut novel, DON JUAN IN HANKEY, PA, published in 2011, is a humorous backstage novel inspired by Don Giovanni, Mozart's famous tragicomic opera about the last two days of Don Juan's life. It was named a Finalist in the 2012 National Indie Excellence Awards for New Fiction.
Her second novel GRACE UNEXPECTED is wryly witty women's fiction that features a protagonist who can hear her ovaries ticking, who has a heart of pure gold, wrapped in lead. But a string of crummy boyfriends would do that to any lovable woman while waiting for Mr. Right.
She has a master of arts in creative writing from Wilkes University. She lives in Eastern Pennsylvania because she has to.
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Book Description Booktrope Editions, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 1935961616