Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

Ten of My Favorite Literary Couples

10 Favorite Literary Couples

In honor of Valentine’s Day and all the gushy feelings it brings, I thought I’d share some of my favorite literary couples. As always when I write one of these lists, this is by no means exhaustive. Honestly, if I tried to remember and rank every bookish couple I love (from romance novels and beyond), I don’t think I’d ever finish!

Some of these will be classic pairings that I’m sure you give you the warm-fuzzies, too. I’ve also tried to include a few lesser-known lovers, which I hope will encourage you to dive into a brand new romance. Fear not — I’ll keep it short and sweet, so you can get back to your own sweetheart (or your cat/wine/half-eaten box of chocolates — no judgment here!).

Inman and Ada MonroeCold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Beyond the fact that it is a beautiful classic about the Civil War, Cold Mountain sets off my long-distance romance waterworks. (My husband and I did long distance between Australia and the U.S. for two years, so I’m sucker for anything with lovers torn apart.) Despite the distance, Ada and Inman stay loyal to each other and persevere through personal hardships, all on the faith that they’ll one day reunite. Their love is truly admirable.

Daisy and Gatsby
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Jay Gatsby and Daisy BuchananThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Let me be clear: Gatsby and Daisy are horrible together, and that is exactly why I love their ill-fated romance. Gatsby is in love with the idea of Daisy (or at least who she used to be), so much so that he reinvents himself to earn her love. Daisy is in love with the idea of Gatsby, the charming boy he was and the mysterious man he’s become. But neither can love the real other. Their romance a great statement on what love should be, and makes for a dreamy ride while it lasts.

Josephine Grant and Elias Addison | A Man Above Reproach by Evelyn Pryce

In this saucy historical romance, the Duke of Lennox falls for the “Bawdy Bluestocking,” the mysterious piano player at the Sleeping Dove brothel. What I love about this book (besides the gorgeous 1830s London backdrop) is the interplay between the characters. Between witty banter, steamy scenes, and the rush of hiding from society, it’s quite the titillating tale!

Clarissa Dalloway and Sally Seton Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

A haunting tale that was ahead of its time. With a title like Mrs. Dalloway, you’d think the romance would be between a husband and wife, but the real love story lies in the past. Thirty years ago, Clarissa Dalloway shared a kiss with her friend Sally Seton, and she still considers it the happiest moment of her life. While unable to recognize the truth behind her feelings, Clarissa provides a meaningful look into the fluid nature of sexuality and what matters most about the people we love.

allie-and-noah
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Allie Nelson and Noah CalhounThe Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Speaking of guilty pleasures, I’m ashamed to say that I own almost every Nicholas Sparks novel. But I will never be ashamed to own The Notebook. The best part of Allie and Noah’s romance is how it evolves over time. They experience the throes of young summer love, the ache of distance, the thrill of reuniting, and the depth of a lifelong partnership.

Anne Edmond and Mike EverettStart Me Up by Nicole Michaels

This is one of my guilty pleasure contemporary romances that really speaks to my Midwestern heart. A crafty single mom and a rough-around-the-edges mechanic fall in love. Will Anne be the one to finally get Mike to commit? I bet you can guess the answer, but there’s only one to find out for sure!

Martin and John | Martin and John by Dale Peck

Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a romance. In nearly every chapter, the characters of Martin and John are reimagined as different people in different scenarios. However, they are almost always shown as lovers. The entire novel works to paint a captivating and heartbreaking image of how love strengthens and collapses under the pressure of the 1980s-90s AIDS epidemic.

Dellwyn Rutt and Lord CollingwoodThe Courtesan’s Avenger by Kate M. Colby

I know, lame, but I couldn’t resist including my favorite couple to write! What I enjoy about Dellwyn and Lord Collingwood’s romance is that they try so hard to fight their chemistry, and yet they can’t help but be drawn to each other. Their relationship is clear-cut behind the Rudder’s walls, but outside, they struggle to agree on what it should be. I’m glad I was able to give them a little closer in this book.

buffy-and-spike
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Buffy Summers and William “Spike” Pratt | Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Joss Whedon

Spoilers ahead, because this requires self-defense. A little unconventional and complete sacrilege to those on Team Angel, but hear me out. Spike loves Buffy even as a vampire without a soul, so much so, that he’s willing to go through hell to get his soul back and be the man she deserves. When Buffy is desperate in the comics, she turns to Spike (over Angel and her friends) time and time again. I could go on (trust me, I have), but suffice to say this is the No. 1 Vampire-Human romance. You can fight me in the comments, but you’re wrong.

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

We were all waiting for this one, right? Since I probably don’t need to say anything about why Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy make for a wonderful couple, I’ll tell you a little secret. Though I admire Elizabeth’s fiery wit and headstrong nature, I’ve actually always identified more with Darcy. I do not have the talent of conversing easily with others, and my good opinion once lost is lost forever. As silly as it sounds, seeing him open himself up to love gave me hope that I could one day do the same … and hey, it worked out!

And there you have it! Now, I’m off to spend the rest of the day devouring chocolate roses (thanks, honey!), putting lovey-dovey puns into wine copy, and writing Aya Cogsmith and her Willem into swoon-worthy scenes. Feel free to share your thoughts on my list or add your own favorite couples in the comments!

Fiction Blog, Writing Samples

For the Love of Coffee (A Mostly-Fictional Short)

Recently, I received an ominous Facebook message from Jonas Lee, a friend and fellow author. It read: Describe that first cup of coffee in blind man’s detail. This is your daily challenge 🙂 Okay, the smiley face ruins some of the menace. Now, I’m not normally one to take on writing challenges. A) I generally stumble upon them at times that are not conducive to writing and then promptly forget about them. B) I am incredibly insecure about putting “unedited” or “free-” (as in free-thought, not $0) writing out there in the world, because I do not want people judging me based on something I just slapped together in a creative frenzy. But coffee? Surely a writer must jump at the chance to muse on coffee! Ha! I hate coffee. In fact, that silky whore and I have a score to settle… The following is a slightly fictionalized, mostly exaggerated account of my daily interactions with coffee.


My husband crawls out of bed at six-thirty a.m. He knows the shifting weight will probably wake me. Even if it does not, he knows his heavy footsteps, shaking the floor like thunder rattles windows, definitely will. But he doesn’t care. He needs her. Now.

As I leave the warmth of our bed and get ready for the day, I hear her begin to stir. A soft gurgle, a steady babble, a short beep. Her mating call. When I tiptoe to the stairs, her scent greets me at the top. It is the only thing I like about her –natural, nutty, a hint of spice. The aroma grows stronger with every step I take, until finally, at the bottom of the stairs, I can feel it tingle my lungs.

My husband is sitting on a stool, having his way with her on the kitchen counter. His lips press around the edge of his mug, letting her slither over his tongue and slide into his gut. At first, the sight repulses me, reminding me of my few tastes of coffee. Water, flat milk, ground plant –mixed together to create something that, contrary to the barista’s smirking insistence, tasted nothing like chocolate.

Upon a second look, I wonder what my husband tastes. The steam has fogged the bottom half of his glasses, but I can see that his eyes are closed, his hands cradling the mug. A moan escapes his lips, guttural, animal. We don’t call coffee his “mistress” for nothing.

Opening his eyes, he notices my presence in the kitchen and smiles, motioning for me to come closer. I obey, holding in air to avoid his sour breath. He kisses me, and when he pulls away, instinct makes me lick my lips. Her taste lingers in his kiss. Bitter.

We say our goodbyes, me rattling off a honey-do list — Call the leasing agent, Make your doctor’s appointment, Write your grandmother — and him reassuring me — I’ve got this, Have a good day, I’ll have dinner waiting for you.

When he wanders back upstairs, refilled mug in hand, I grab a pen and sticky note. I know that I can never replace her. Caffeine is a drug, and I am merely a woman. But I also know that, while she may warm his stomach and awaken his brain, only I can touch his heart. Today, my touch will begin with a smile, sparked by a poem, stuck to the coffee pot.

I want to be your sugar

crystals melted on your tongue

sprinkled in your coffee

black

Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things, Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips, Writing Updates

How Marriage Has Helped My Writing Career

Today is my husband, Daniel’s, birthday, and as far as I’m concerned, it is one of the most exciting birthdays he has ever had. You see, even though we have been together for over two years, this is the first time we can share his birthday together. We were in a long distance relationship for his first two birthdays of our relationship, and I am thrilled that we will finally be together to celebrate him.

DanielBeyond the excitement of sharing milestones together, the transition to being close-distance and living together has brought dozens of new facets to our relationship. Most relevant to this blog, our relationship — and, I would argue, our marriage — has entirely transformed my writing career. Daniel takes on so many important roles in my writing career that I can honestly say I would not be where I am today without him.

Now, don’t worry. I am not going to get up on a soapbox and preach the superiority of marriage to single-hood or pressure anyone into popping the question prematurely. Trust me, I remember the benefits of singledom; I’m only 22. All I’m going to do is brag on my husband for his birthday and tell you ways that a healthy, loving partnership can help you reach your fullest potential as a creative (in my case, writer) and as a person.

To put it simply, here are all the roles Daniel takes on that have helped springboard my writing career:

Support System

“For better or worse,” right? Daniel has been incredibly supportive of my writing career. Every time I doubt myself, he is there to pick me back up and remind me of all the reasons I can achieve my dreams.

Fan and Advocate

Daniel loves proclaiming himself my number one fan (though I imagine my mom would grapple with him for that title). He does all the things “fans” do: he brags about my creative mind, brings up my success in conversations, and encourages his friends and family to check out my latest projects. I made my Facebook author page, but he is the one who hacked my account and made it go live (no joke). And while I was irritated about that at first, in retrospect, it was exactly the supportive push off the cliff I needed.

marriageBusiness Partner

As I have said before, Daniel is the one who introduced me to independent publishing. However, his role has not ended there. He constantly looks for podcasts, books, and industry news that will interest and assist me. Moreover, he is always thinking about ways to market my author business and diversify it, and he is 100% willing and happy to invest our finances and time in this venture. That in and of itself is vital to my future as a writer.

 

Beta Reader

Daniel is always anxious to read what I write, so I let him read along with my first drafts as he chooses. The only rule is: on the first draft, he cannot say anything negative unless it is a ginormous plot hole that must be fixed immediately. So far, he’s helped me catch one major plot hole, and otherwise, built up my ego with compliments.

Critic

The critic role has not come into play too much yet. However, I know that, when I am ready for my manuscript to be critiqued, Daniel will do his best to help. Right now, he does a good job of keeping my attitude in check and keeping me on a positive creative path.

Tech Support

Seriously, though. This man has saved me from a many a mental breakdown and our technological equipment from many a dangerous situation.

partnersAccountability Partner

During NaNoWriMo, Daniel kept me accountable to my writing. Every night after work he asked me how much I had written during my lunch break. Then, after dinner, he would ask me when writing time was and literally push me up the stairs to the office if necessary. While this sounds harsh, I am so grateful to have had the extra push and to finally have someone truly hold me accountable to my goals.

Brain Dump

I do my best brainstorming by talking through my plot out loud. There have been so many times where I have made Daniel the dumping ground for my brainstorming and rambled on about my plot or characters or setting. However, even though he knows that I am not always looking for feedback or actually talking to him, he listens and lets me get it all out of my system.

Role Model

Daniel has just finished two degrees, and he is working toward his second Master’s degree, to be followed by a PhD. He throws himself into all aspects of his academic community, and he is tirelessly working toward achieving his own dreams. If that hardwork, dedication, and confidence is not the perfect example for me to replicate in my own career efforts, I don’t know what is.

marriedIf you are married, your spouse may not fulfill all of these roles — and you may not need or want all of these roles to come from your partner. If you are not in a relationship, there are likely several close friends or family members that fill these roles for you. Either way, trust me when I say, it is so reassuring to know that someone has your back and will do everything s/he can to help you achieve your dreams.

Before marrying Daniel, I was a “writer” with big dreams and little action. Now, I am a writer (no quotation marks necessary) with big dreams, big actions, and big plans. Can I give him 100% credit for my success? No. I think I deserve I good chunk of it. However, I can say, having him in my life has been a huge help and momentum builder.

That’s what marriage is about. Having someone in your life, who has chosen and committed to you, who helps you be the best version of yourself you can be. And lucky for me, I’ve got it.

Happy birthday, honey. I love you.