Elaine Marie Cooper
The publishing industry is rapidly changing. Large bookstores are closing while Mom and Pop chains grow. Books are also changing. Hard copies are making way to e-books and audios and traditional molds are bursting to give way to a wide variety of plots, genres and styles. Suddenly shelf placement is not nearly as important as a great opening hook and back cover blurb. As the industry changes, one thing becomes clear—story is king! As cyber-space opens the door for a greater number of authors to reveal their work, the competition becomes fierce. Those with compelling plots, dynamic characters, and page-turning prose are taking the literary world by storm.
Now more than ever independent publishers are stepping forward, shattering America’s pre-conceived ideas of indie and self-publishing. Our latest Clash of the Titles’ conqueror, Elaine Marie Cooper, is a perfect example. She went straight from our site to a prestigious awards ceremony held in Los Angeles, California, where her COTT winning novel, The Road to Deer Run was honored in the romance category.
Think back to your childhood fantasies. Did you watch Cinderella and Snow White longingly, envisioning yourself in the beautiful gown? Or were you Belle, swept off her feet by a strong, yet tender hero who would do anything to prove his love? What is it about these stories that touch us so deeply that they are able to transcend from one generation to the next? I suspect they reveal a deep need in the woman’s heart—the need to feel cherished. We want strong protectors who will fight for us.
See if you can’t notice “protector” qualities in the following excerpt.
Mary began to relax. Daniel’s voice was soothing to her spirit. By the time the brush had reached the crown of her head, she was closing her eyes, the tension falling from her face.
Daniel smoothed her soft locks with his hand. “There. Your hair is lovely.”
When he put the brush down, Mary turned to look at him. She noticed the dried blood on his right cheek, a reminder of his encounter with the intruder’s knife. She touched his face, which made him wince. She furrowed her brow and stood up, walking to the medicine cabinet. When she returned, she cleaned off the blood and applied slippery elm to the long but shallow knife wound.
Daniel took her hand and kissed her palm slowly.
“Thank you, Mary. I’d quite forgotten it was there.”
Mary looked at him with a deep pain filling her eyes. “I should not have opened the door,” she said finally, her lips trembling and the tears flowing.
She took a deep breath in between her sobs.
“The door,” she said. “It was locked and I thought it was my mother returning. I should not have opened it.” Her tears spilled forth like a river flowing over a burdened dam. Daniel looked at her with tenderness.
“You did not know, Mary. How could you know? This was not your fault.”
He held her closely and let her sobs slowly subside. When she was finished crying, he looked at her and wiped her tears with his linen shirtsleeve.
“Come sit with me, Mary,” he said. He led her to the chair by the fire. It was the same chair that he had held her in when she had been so ill with the influenza. It was the same place of comfort when she could not get warm. He sat on the wooden seat and held out his arms to her. She gingerly crawled onto his lap and curled up in his arms.
“Rest your head on my shoulder,” he whispered. She found the familiar notch in his neck that seemed as if it were made just for her. She placed her hand on his chest. He once again covered her long fingers with his large hand.
Without lifting her head, she spoke for the first time without crying. “I love you, Daniel.”
The young man struggled to contain his own emotions as he answered her in kind. “I love you too, Mary.”
The exhausted couple closed their eyes and rested for the first time since last night.
Daniel was finally able to relax. He knew deep in his heart that Mary would one day be able to put aside the horror of the intruder’s heartless touch. She would instead remember the tender embrace of the man who loved her.
Next week Elaine will share her journey to publication with us. Why did she choose self-publishing? Does she regret it? Has anything surprised her? Would she do anything differently if she had it to do all over again?