Clue to answering the skill-testing question (see above): I write romance novels.
If you enter a comment answering the question correctly, you will be entered to win a copy of the ebook FUR BALL FEVER. This contest will run one week, and the winner will be notified by email.
Writing COLD FEET FEVER, sequel to FUR BALL FEVER, has proved to be harder than I anticipated. Much harder. Turns out one of my problems was that I didn’t know my new heroine well enough to make her spring to life on the page. In a desperate bid to save my sanity, I decided Gina Deluca and I needed to sit down over a bottle of Pino Grigio (well, at least one of us needed the wine) to get better acquainted. Here’s what she told me about her background, and I quote:
My full name is Gina Maria Francesca Deluca. I was born on a beige sofa in the Tranquility Slumber Room of the family business, Paradise Gate Funeral Haven & Crematorium. It all happened too fast for Pop to haul Mamma to the hospital in the hearse, which was occupied with a different type of delivery. I popped out, no fuss, and only a little muss. My efficient arrival so impressed our neighbor, Signor Antonio Guglione (even then, a powerful man in the Italian community), he begged to be my godfather. Unknown to my parents, Zio Antonio as I called him, was a mob associate. We only learned this unfortunate fact several years later, and by then it was too late because Zio Antonio had progressed up the organized crime ladder to become the Boss. Nobody ever un-godfathered a Mafia crime lord and lived to tell the tale. Whether I liked it or not, I was stuck with Zio Antonio.
Death pretty much defined the Deluca family for three generations. It’s a matter of pride. Delucas inhale death, clean up after death, pretty up death, conduct death rituals, and profit from death. We even live in an annex attached to the mortuary. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, heavy footsteps and hurried conversations in Italian would jolt me awake. Our funeral parlor was favored by families of Italian descent. Some weren’t even members of the Jersey Mafioso. Most were.
My parents assumed that, like my brothers, I would join the family business. It never occurred to me to refuse. Kids in elementary school teased me, calling me ‘Morticia’ or ‘Godmother’, and begged for an invitation to play in the embalming room. Boys only dated me because I had access to endless scary things, like dead bodies. At university, I threw myself into my Mortuary Science studies and avoided the social scene as much as possible.
During the summers, I worked my tail off at Paradise Gate. I welcomed the responsibility with open arms, and made myself indispensable with my efficiency. Soon I was bossing people around to my heart’s content while counseling the bereaved, embalming like crazy, and organizing elaborate funerals. I absorbed the finer details of the mortuary business—like how critical it was to match a corpse with the correct family; or how to tone down an elderly woman’s makeup so she didn’t look like a two-bit hooker on crack; or the importance of reinserting a client’s dentures prior to the viewing; or ensuring any severed body parts were discretely included with the rest of the mortal remains. Please don’t ask me to continue because I could fill a novel with incidents best forgotten.
In my last year of university, I snagged a date with a nice, respectable Italian boy. This happy time barely lasted a month, but was enough time for me to get knocked up. The poor guy got whacked in a back alley behind a bar where he’d gone to puke up the two pitchers of beer he’d consumed. The gossip was that my boyfriend was the victim of a mob hit ordered by my godfather. Every up-and-coming hood and gang member in town decided to protect my honor in the hopes of currying my godfather’s favor. Word that it wasn’t safe to date me spread like wildfire to the ordinary community. After that, even ‘normal’ men refused to date me for fear of getting whacked. By then, I was convinced I was unattractive to men, seeing as how they avoided me like the plague. Deciding abstinence was the best solution, I immersed myself in motherhood and work.
By the time Zio Antonio had the good grace to croak (taken out by one of his own bullets, which ricocheted off a cement truck), my son was eight years old. I’d spent the intervening years in a fantasy world, dreaming of meeting that special man, a hero, a fantasy man who was kind to old people and loved children, someone who would look after me and treasure me. I wanted hearts and flowers and white picket fences.
Too bad slick playboy Sam Jackson, the smooth-talking nightclub owner and hero of COLD FEET FEVER, has a granddaddy who drives him nuts, is so terrified by the mere thought of fathering children that he wears two condoms and disposes of them himself so there will be no slip-ups, and has no intention of giving up the good life of drinking, gambling, and womanizing to settle down.
So can a bossy undertaker-turned-party-planner find true love and happiness with a slick playboy nightclub owner? If you enter a comment answering the skill-testing question correctly, you will be entered to win a copy of the ebook FUR BALL FEVER. This contest will run one week, and the winner will be notified by email.