It's so interesting to see how a writer can evolve over time...you grow wiser and more 'seasoned.' Look at this example to show how much more mature my writing has gotten since I wrote this book about 20+ years ago. I'm sure I could polish it up one day, and it would take some seriously heavy editing, but I'm too focused on my current book to even THINK about doing it just yet. Compare it to the mystery novel I'm writing NOW, which is still untitled, though I have an idea of what it will be. First is the sample of the 'older' book from 20 years ago "And the Tide Will Turn"... following it will be a small snippet of the LATEST book so you judge for yourself...
“Yes ma’am, I’ll be right in.” Diane Richards hung up the receiver and rushed to her employer’s office. She was only 22 years old and already holding down a wonderful job at LaRouge, the most successful cosmetic and fashion corporation in Los Angeles. She was secretary to the Founder and President, Jacqueline Barrett. Ms. Barrett was so exciting to work for with her worldly ways and wealth of knowledge and power. She was in her mid-50’s but still very beautiful with her lengthy chestnut hair, always twisted in a sophisticated bun, and a figure just as slim as the models. She was an extremely intelligent woman who was well-respected in the industry.
“I’m glad you’ve come in for some constructive criticism.” she smiled. Taking a nervous breath, Diane sat in the soft chair facing Jacqueline’s mahogany desk. “Don’t be so nervous, dear. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. You need to loosen up a bit. You’re an attractive young woman. Why don’t you ever let that come out?”
“You think I’m attractive?” she blushed.
“Oh, don’t be so modest! You have a wonderful figure, and your hair is like spun silk, but you just let it lie flat.”
“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, Ms. Barrett, but why are you telling me this?”
“I care about people looking their best. I own the most popular agency in L.A., and I think it’s about time I helped you out.”
“Thanks, but I’m afraid it’s hopeless.” her eyes fell to the plush navy carpeting.
“How do you expect to improve yourself with that line of thinking? Do you ever hear my models talk like that?”
“They have no reason to because they are perfect.”
“No one is perfect, dear. Everyone is beautiful in their own unique way. My top female models, Teri and Jeanette, are total opposites, but they are both still beautiful.” she smiled, “Although they don’t get along very well.”
“I’ve heard they argue during every shoot.”
“Let me give you some friendly advice.” she winked, “Don’t take rumors so seriously.”
“I’m sorry Ms. Barrett, I didn’t mean…”
“Let’s move on, shall we?” she smiled patiently, “Picture Teri – tall, lanky, blonde, and did you know she actually has gray eyes? I’m sure you’ve also heard she can be demanding and stubborn.”
“I’m just grateful she’s nice to me. I wouldn’t want to be on her bad side.”
Jacqueline chuckled, “As for Jeanette – she has long, black hair, porcelain skin, and her eyes are the brightest shade of green I’ve ever seen in this business.”
“How old is she?”
“She just turned 25, and Teri is 26. However, you are the focus of this conversation. For starters, you could benefit by wearing makeup.”
“I don’t know the first thing about it. I wasn’t allowed to wear it when I lived at home.”
“What do you think I have Allen Mulligan for? He’s been my makeup man for over five years, and he’s the best!”
“I’ve met him twice. He’s very nice and very handsome.” she blushed, “I’ve had a crush on him since the day I started working here two months ago.”
“Goodness! Nearly all of my models share your sentiments! If you promise to keep this under your hat, I’ll tell you who his heart really pounds for.” She had a devilish gleam in her eye.
Diane leaned forward, hope filling her voice, “I promise not to tell a soul.”
“Jeanette! In fact, they’ve become good friends. He’s nearly 14 years older than her, you know.”
“Age doesn’t really matter when it comes to love and matters of the heart.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
She was running out of patience, “Doesn’t Jeanette already have a boyfriend?” Why did other women always beat her to the punch? It wasn’t fair!
“Actually, she’s got her eye on my top male model, Matt Downing.”
“He’s got the nicest eyes I’ve ever seen.”
“Oh yes! Don’t they just melt you? They’re so blue!” she seemed to be off in her own little world. Diane had never seen her act this way. She was always so professional and in control. “Okay, enough of this gossip.” she stood abruptly, her eyes twinkling beneath the tortoise shell glasses, “Go down to Allen and get yourself made over. Just tell him I sent you.”
“Thank you so much, Ms. Barrett! I really appreciate your help.”
“It’s no trouble at all, dear.” she smiled.
Nervous about facing Allen, Diane took her time getting there. All she could think about were his dark eyes, wavy brown hair, the protruding torso, and those adorable dimples. She had been captivated with him since the day they met, but she was sure he hadn’t noticed. Now that she knew he had eyes for Jeanette, she swore she’d take him away from her.
As she walked down the stairs, she thought intently. From now on, she wouldn’t enter this complex unless she looked as glamorous as Jeanette! It might take a while, but she’d come out on top.
When she opened the door to enter his room, he was on the couch, smoking an unfiltered cigarette and reading the latest gossip rag. Once he spotted her, he stood.
“Hi there,” he smiled, revealing those dimples, “Can I help you?”
“Yes. Ms. Barrett sent me down for a makeover.”
“Ah yes, you’re her new secretary.” he was still smiling. The man was always happy! “Sit down, and tell me what you’d like.”
She’d like many things! Kissing his sexy lips would be a wonderful start. “Give me the works.” she giggled, taking a seat.
“Well, your hair has very nice texture. Would you like to keep it shoulder length?”
“Yes, but I’d like a different style. This one is boring.”
“How about coloring? Do you want to be adventurous or stick with the blonde?”
“What do you think?”
“I’d like to try auburn. I really think it would suit you.”
First, he dyed her hair, layering the sides while leaving the length intact. Her tiny nose was enhanced, her eyes appearing larger. Once that phase was finished, he worked on her makeup, applying a light base, tangerine blush, and matching lipstick.
Before she could observe the results, Bryan Moore, LaRouge’s ace photographer and Teri’s beau, barged in, his stocky body hurling the door open.
“Allen, I need help.” He was panting like a dog.
“What the hell are you doing?” Allen’s face contorted, “Don’t just muscle your way in here like that!”
“Teri’s shooting, and she’s demanding more lip gloss. It’s the purple stuff. She says it’s on your dressing table.” he pointed impatiently, “So, just give it to me, and she’ll put it on herself. We really don’t have time for you to do it.”
“She thinks she can demand anything as if she owns the goddamned world! She’d better start acting like a lady. Why can’t she be more like Jeanette? She’s a perfect lady.” he stomped over to the dressing table, “Take the gloss and get out of here!” he tossed the tube.
“Thanks. By the way,” he was eyeing Diane, “You’re a looker. What’s your name?”
“Don’t get any ideas!” Allen boomed, “She’s not a model.”
“She could be.”
“I thought you were in a hurry. Her majesty is waiting.”
“Look, Teri’s okay, and she deserves some respect. You know she’s fragile.”
“Teri, fragile?” he howled, “You’ve got to be crazy! We’re not running a kindergarten, this is a professional organization. None of us has time to cater to a childish brat. If she refuses to act like an adult, she’s not going to be treated like one. Besides, you’re her man, so you should know better than anyone else what a bitch she is!”
“I wish you’d get off your high horse once in a while. Take some time to smell the coffee, pal. Jeanette isn’t the virgin queen. Just keep that in mind.” he slammed the door behind me.
Allen faced Diane, “I’m sorry about that, but it’s an everyday occurrence around here. You’ll get used to it soon enough. Anyway, look at yourself.” he swung her chair to face the mirror, “I hope you like what I’ve done.”
“Oh, you’re a miracle worker!” she jumped out of the chair and hugged him, “Thank you so much.”
He smiled, “I was only doing my job, and I had good features to work with. I don’t know why you think so little of yourself. It’s not very healthy.”
“Oh, but I looked so homely.” she poured on her famous modesty routine, “Now I can face the world. I owe you so much.”
“Don’t be silly. You can pay me back by going to lunch with me someday.”
“I’d love to.” she smiled sweetly. Now she was more determined than ever to make this man hers. And she was going to do it, no matter what the cost!
* * * * *
* * * * *
The headaches were back. With it, they brought the tension…the darkness…the fear. Fear of losing control. He would experience memory loss and start “hunting” again. The last time this happened, the outcome was catastrophic….
* * *
Jenny Evans arrived at work…another annoying day at her measly job as a sales agent for a life insurance company. It wasn't a job she ever dreamt of, but she fell into it when times got rough a few years ago, and that bastard, Danny, left her.
Once the economy started to tank, her last boss told her he had to let her go. She was thriving as a Manager for a small publishing firm. She had loved reading since she was a child. She read everything she could get her hands on. She kept a journal and even wrote poems and stories. Then, she got the droll speech about how great she was, but they weren't doing so well, her salary was too high, blah blah blah. So, she wound up on unemployment until her dear friend, Viv, got her this job.
Jenny was a good sales agent - always in the top four, but it didn't fulfill her. She needed something more....
* * *
Viv Williams was a vivacious 35-year old. Her hair looked like spun gold, and she'd be the first to tell you it came from a bottle. Never pulling punches, she was a blunt, sassy Jersey girl - but not like those bimbos plastered on every goddamned tv station, ruining the image of her beloved state. Pissed her off every time she heard a reference to it. She could make any sailor blush with the way she cursed, and yet it suited her. She could somehow get away with it and not have it diminish her femininity at all.
Standing 5'8" and curvaceous, she was proud of her looks. They had opened doors for her. Once her high heels opened them, she could show everyone she had a brain and not just ample boobs. After all, she was the top sales agent at PMS. What a hideous acronym to overcome, yet she did it. She sold the most life insurance policies every year at Peter Mann Services.
Why did he have to name his company after a damn female medical ailment? Typical man, he didn't think, that's why. Didn't he have a single advisor who could give him a hint it might not be a good marketing move? No matter. She grinned at herself in the mirror. She was wearing her favorite red dress. okay it was bright red and not exactly "appropriate" for work, but she would throw a nice black blazer over it and add her new shiny pin.
Jenny gave it to her for her birthday last week - a beautiful crystal snowflake. She was so sweet and thoughtful. She knew she had her work cut out for her. Jenny was feeling extra low these days, and she wasn't sure why. Usually, she told her everything, but she was holding something back....