Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Blog Tour! Sliding Past Vertical (+$30 Amazon Giftcard Giveaway!)

Title: Sliding Past Vertical 
Author: Laurie Boris
Series: N/A
Pages: 262
Publisher: Createspace
Date Published: October 2, 2013
Format: eBook
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours 

Sarah Cohen is a walking disaster. She means well, but the ex-diver’s hasty decisions wreak havoc on her life in Boston. Good thing Emerson is a phone call away in Syracuse, with a metaphorical mop to clean up the mess. Their long-distance friendship can be excruciating for him, though. Years after they shared a brief college romance, he’s still in love with her. When everything goes wrong, Sarah takes another plunge: back to the scene of her last mistake, to start fresh. Unfortunately for Emerson, the move puts her too close for comfort. Her attempts to straighten her life’s trajectory are sometimes amusing and sometimes catastrophic. With Sarah around, is anyone safe?
~~~Guest Post from Laurie!~~~
Keeping Contemporary Relevant-Does Contemporary Lit get outdated too fast?

Sliding Past Vertical is set in a specific period in history—the late 1980s—so that allowed me the luxury of anchoring the story in space and time with mentions of pop culture, news items, and giant shoulder pads. Other times, I have to be more careful, because I usually write contemporary fiction. According to a few YA authors I talked to recently, this means anything written after the invention of Twitter. I love contemporary because modern life has challenges most people can relate to. For some of the more complex ones, though, I want to toss the story at a bunch of characters and say, “Here. What would YOU do with this?”

I do think it’s possible to keep contemporary lit, well, contemporary. To avoid that “not so fresh” feeling, you have to be wary of using overly trendy cultural and technological references. Cell phones, email, and texting, yes. That feels modern, instead of having your characters hunt around for pay phones and quarters. But give your protagonist a specific model of iPhone and you may find yourself in the expired produce bin faster than you can say “Betamax.” Types of entertainment, yes. Send a character to a chick-flick or a horror movie and you’re probably safe. Chances are they’ll be around a while. In one story, my protagonist’s husband stalks off to a movie after a bad day. When his wife asks him what he saw, he just says, “I don’t know. Stuff blew up.” The reference stays modern—CGI action film—without the risk of mentioning a hero whose career could soon go up in smoke.

To stay contemporary without dating the story, writers need be careful about celebrity comparisons in general. Don’t tell me your male lead looks like Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, or Chris Hemsworth. First, a slice of your audience might not know who they are. Second, depending on their career trajectories, your flavor-of-the-month could flame out or end up in jail, in rehab, or in hiding by the time your book is released. Over the years I’ve had to axe references to Anna Nicole Smith’s diet pill endorsement (she died from an overdose), Lindsay Lohan’s acting (her career is in intensive care), and Britney Spears (self-explanatory.) “He flashed a movie-star smile that seemed to deepen the cleft in his chin and attract every straight female in his gravitational field,” holds up better than, “People told him he looked like (insert name of this week’s hot stud here).” Icons work here, too. Give your protagonist Marilyn’s or Beyonce’s curves and pretty much everyone knows what you’re talking about.

Fashion can be a problem, too. Anyone who bought MC Hammer pants in the 90s and pretty much anything worn during Carrie Bradshaw’s reign knows that clothing can go out of style pretty quickly. With a little creativity, you can dress your character in the latest trends without tagging a flash-in-the-pan designer or his animal-print leggings. Some items (jeans, T-shirts, leather jackets) are timeless without feeling generic. James Dean made them sexy. So does Johnny Depp. Mentioning every detail of a contemporary lit character’s ensemble is a recipe for stale pastry.

Music can be another contemporary trap. If you reference a style without using the name of a band that might be a one-hit-wonder by the time the second book in the series hits Amazon, you’ll stand a better chance of retaining a modern feel.

I like to give readers some credit, too, for keeping the fresh in contemporary. Give them the context and they are smart enough to fill in the soundtrack (not to mention the closet and the technology) with something appropriate from their current mental playlist.
~~~Try an Excerpt!~~~
It was a room Sarah had slept in before: a small room with butter-yellow walls sticky from generations of fingerprints and a warped closet door that wouldn’t stay closed. It smelled of wet wood, stale cigarettes, and old coffee. Even though the room had been vacant all summer, the damp, anxious-student smell hadn’t left and probably never would.

It’s not like I’m going to be here forever, Sarah thought, as she pulled on her new nightshirt, a giant blue tee with the Penthouse logo printed on the breast pocket. Emerson gave it to her when she’d realized that throwing out what the dealers had ruined left her nothing to sleep in. Even wrapped in its original plastic, the shirt had assumed the musty funk. It reminded her of college, when this charmingly shabby neighborhood, this house, this room, and Emerson had been her refuge from a variety of awful roommates, from bad phone calls home, from men who failed to live up to her expectations.

In the narrow bedframe sagged a thin mattress, and the sheet—Emerson’s spare—was worn transparent in the center. The springs complained as she sat and fluffed up the sad little pillow a former tenant had left behind. She tried not to think about the backache she’d have in the morning.

Sarah tossed for a while, trying to find a comfortable position, a spot that didn’t sag too badly. She gave sleep a chance but the stubborn bitch eluded her. It was the mattress, the smell, or maybe the T-shirt, too new from the package and itchy. Maybe it was the humid night. Or just knowing Emerson inhabited the room across the hall.

His typewriter hummed, and the clack of the keys, fast then slow then fast, became a kind of dance step. With a ping and the return of the carriage, it started again.
I’d never write about you.
~~~Meet Laurie!~~~
 Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of four novels: The Joke's on Me, Drawing Breath, Don't Tell Anyone, and Sliding Past Vertical. When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she enjoys baseball, cooking, reading, and helping aspiring novelists as a contributing writer and editor for IndiesUnlimited.com. She lives in New York's lovely Hudson Valley.
Laurie will be awarding a Grand Prize of a $30 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and an e-book copy of her backlist book, Drawing Breath, will be awarded to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop.


  1. congratz for the release Laurie...looking forward to read ur book..
    thx u for hosting this giveaway :)

    chiko_jubilee at yahoo dot com

  2. Getting the references just right for the period must be tricky sometimes. Very interesting thank you.


    1. Thank you, Mary. Getting the references right is tricky. Fortunately I have a halfway decent memory and Mama Google! :D

  3. Sounds like an interesting read. Congrats on your book release! Thanks for sharing:)

    lorih824 at yahoo dot com

    1. Thank you, Lori, and thank you for visiting! :D

  4. I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you.


  5. So many authors ignore things that would date the story. l loved the excerpt.

  6. Thank you, MomJane. This is one of my favorite scenes.

  7. Thanks for the excerpt and the chance to win!
    Sounds like a great read!!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  8. Great excerpt! Really great points in your post about not dating your book. Thanks for sharing today. :-)

    1. Thank you, Glenda. My friends who write historical fiction have much less to worry about in that regard! They just have to make sure nothing's out of whack with the type of leather saddle used, etc. Okay, maybe that would drive me nuts. ;)

  9. A vivid word portrait (and I was reminded of the hours spent pounding away on my little portable manual typewritier, lol). Thanks for sharing.

    elewkf1 at yahoo dot com

    1. Thank you for reading! I took a typing test on one of those portable manuals in journalism school. If we couldn't type 25 WPM, we failed the class. Fortunately, I was (still am) pretty fast.

  10. And thank you, Andra, for being such a great hostess today. I love your blog! :D

  11. My personal preference when I read romantic or women's fiction is to read contemporary. I don't necessarily worry about getting all the pop references. I do agree, though, that the use of some references can date something very quickly.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  12. Thank you for your thoughts. I like all romance but I do have to say my fav is historical but I do like to read contemporary. I just love to read and will read just about anything as long as I think it will be a good read

  13. Congratulations, Nurmawati—you've won a copy of Drawing Breath! Thank you, everyone, for visiting my blog tour! :D