Authors: Tara Chevrestt
Plotting to Win
Reality TV has made stars of dancers, bachelors and singers. Now authors get a turn
In New York City, seven writers compete for a hundred thousand dollars, a publishing contract with Bright House, and the title of the next bestseller. One is Felicity James. One is Victor Guzman.
Drama, plagiarism, and trash talk play out to enthralled audiences across the country as all seven contestants compete against each other in a range of heated challenges, with tensions reaching breaking point. As Felicity and Victor start up a show-mance, their relationship burns up the ratings.
Will this sizzling fling escalate into a vicious battle for money and fame, or will these two authors manage to write their own happy ending?
Tara Chevrestt is a deaf woman, former aviation mechanic, writer, and an editor. She is most passionate about planes, motorcycles, dogs, and above all, reading, which led to her love of writing. Between her writing and her editing, which allows her to be home with her little canine kids, she believes she has the greatest job in the world. She is very happily married.
Her theme is
Strong is Sexy
. She shares a website with her naughty pen name:
and they have a Facebook page:
I have the greatest of friends. Laura DeLuca, Lacey Wolfe, Angelique Mroczka, Staci Perkins, Lorraine Nelson, Kelly Yeakle, whether you beta’d or proofread, or just shouted encouragement, I’m grateful to you all. And thank you, Kate Cuthbert and Danica Beaudoin.
This one is for my mum, dad, stepmum and husband; my biggest cheerleading squad
The taxicab pulled up at the curb of a cave. Felicity could not believe her eyes. Had she a moment, she would have rubbed them, so sure was she that her vision was playing tricks on her. In the middle of New York City, wedged between skyscrapers, was a large rock-like building, at least three stories high, a perfect half circle flush with the ground.
The gray coloring matched the rainy day perfectly. If she were not parked right next to it, she wouldn’t have known it was there. In the center was a rectangular opening, obviously a door, judging by the woman standing in the middle of it, waiting, arms crossed, expression watchful.
She was waiting for her. The famous morning talk show host, Ophelia West, was waiting for
Before she could take in much more, the car door opened and a cool breeze caressed her face. A lady with a clipboard came out of nowhere, her hair done in funky pink spikes, wearing trendy punk attire, and looked at her with a bored expression, one hand still on the door. “You here for the show?” she asked in between smacks of gum.
Finding her voice, Felicity replied, “I am. I’m an author. I wri —”
“Name?” punk girl interrupted.
“Felicity. Felicity James.” Felicity stepped out of the cab and grabbed her large tote, digging in it for the fare. “From Detroit,” she added offhand, unsure of what more to say and feeling nervous.
“No need to pay him. The show covers all transportation costs here. But if you go home early …” the girl took a long up and down look at Felicity, as if judging how soon she would be going home just by the look of her, “you pay your own way.”
Felicity felt indignant. “Well, I’m not worried about that.”
Punk girl merely grinned and smacked her gum again before marking something on the clipboard. “Go stand over there with the other writers. Ya’ll will be introduced soon.” A head nod toward a large cluster of people standing around looking anxious told Felicity where she was supposed to go.
Felicity wanted to correct the woman and say, “I’m an author. I write books. It’s not just a hobby,” but decided it wouldn’t be wise to get on any bad sides yet. She’d gone through a lot of forms and interviews to get here. Millions had applied, and there were only seven positions. This being a reality show, there was no telling when she might see punk girl again … or worse, need her.
The cab pulled away as Felicity walked toward the group. She figured she would meet the famous Ophelia soon enough. One blonde woman immediately caught her eye. She was hard to miss, due to her excessive cleavage and tiny top that allowed her assets to spill out. Her smile was friendly, however, and so Felicity decided to introduce herself. “Hi.” She dropped her bag on the ground. “I’m Felicity.”
The blonde accepted her hand, jingling a wrist full of bracelets. “Tiffani.”
A man standing next to Tiffani — looking not so friendly with his well-muscled arms crossed in front of his obviously defined chest and a scowl on his face — made a scoffing sound. “Are you two going to get all girly and friendly now? It’s a waste of time. Once this competition gets going, you two will be at each other’s throats. I don’t know why you bother. We’re not here to make friends. If you are, you should leave now, ’cause you won’t win.”
Felicity eyed him. Why were all the good-looking men such assholes? With his short dark hair, olive skin, and perfectly arched dark eyebrows, the man was fine with a capital F, but his bad attitude was oozing through his tight t-shirt. She cast an apologetic glance at Tiffani. “I realize we’re here for a competition, but really, that bad attitude isn’t necessary.”
Tiffani rolled her eyes. “I’ve been listening to this man talk smack for ten minutes. It’s nice to see a friendly face.”
It appeared hot stuff wanted to say something more, but at that moment, a loud voice called for their attention.
“Contestants, come inside please.” The plump African-American woman who’d been standing in the doorway had a very commanding voice despite her small stature. Felicity wanted to run up and introduce herself, shake the woman’s hand, but knew she would look silly and something just told her that would be frowned on at the moment. This was really serious. 100,000 dollars was at stake.
The seven writers cast awkward glances around, scoping each other really quickly, before they collected their luggage and made their way single file toward the doorway of the cave. Punk girl instructed them to leave their bags just inside the doorway. The interior was well lit. It appeared to be the size of a very large warehouse and what Felicity presumed was the first floor was relatively like any building. In front of them was a long table on a stage. Behind the table were three chairs. This was obviously where they were going to be judged … and eliminated.
They all stood there, glancing around and trying not to look as though they were doing so. On either side of them, up and down the length of the building, were walls dividing the floor into sections, but whatever was behind those sections was hidden by long black curtains. Where were the cameras? She knew they had to be on camera, but they were well hidden.
Ophelia West stood on the stage and gestured them to come close. Scuffling and shuffling sounds ensued as all seven contestants filed forward. The talk show host smiled at them and clapped her hands together. “Welcome to
The Next Bestseller
. There are seven of you here, all of you authors, each one vying for the title of the next bestseller. At stake is 100,000 dollars and a publishing contract for one book with Bright House, one of the ‘big six’,” she made quotation marks with her fingers, “in the American publishing industry.”
A few deep, nervous breaths went through the group. A shiver of excitement ran up Felicity’s spine. She wanted that money and that contract. She needed it. The contestants began casting each other sideways looks. Hot stuff was on her right. On the other side of him was an older white man with a buzz cut and a stern jaw. He stared straight ahead and held his hands behind his back as though he were a solider standing at attention. Beyond him, Felicity could see another woman, not very feminine looking, and a tall African-American man with skin just a shade darker than her own. He had a shiny bald head and black frames balanced precariously on his nose.
The talk show host’s speech captured her attention again. “I am your host and also one of your judges. As most of you probably know, I have hosted the daytime talk show,
, every weekday morning on DBS Network.”
The contestants all nodded, including Felicity. Ophelia West continued, “I’m a voracious reader, and every Friday, on my show, we feature a new book. This has led to Ophelia’s Book Club. The book club has grown to over twelve million members worldwide.” The woman paused to look at each contestant in turn, her gaze steely, as if challenging any one of them to question her qualifications at this point. “If I recommend a book, you could very well get twelve million readers along with that Ophelia’s Book Club silver star on the cover.” She smiled at them then. If it was meant to be reassuring, it did not have its intended effect.
Sweat ran down the back of Felicity’s neck despite the coolness of the cave. Someone cleared their throat. Next to her, hot stuff shifted and uncrossed his arms. When had he gotten so close to her? His arm brushed hers as he lowered it. Felicity fought the urge to take a step back. She didn’t want him to know she was uncomfortable. Something told her he was trying to psych her out, throw her off her game.
“Your work will be judged also by Nicole Roberts, bestselling romance author.”
A plump, smiling redhead wearing a flowered skirt and bohemian blouse stepped forward from the shadows, nodding at them politely. Felicity joined in the clapping, and a squeal of excitement came from Felicity’s left — Tiffani. Did she write romance too? Felicity had a moment of confusion. She thought they were all supposed to write different genres. Regardless, surely having a romance-writing judge would work in her favour.
On her left, hot stuff groaned. “What does a romance writer know about real fiction?” The comment wasn’t loud enough for the judges to hear, but Felicity did, and heat rushed through her body. She bit her lip so hard she was afraid it would bleed. A sidelong glance at his hand verified he wore no wedding bad. No big surprise there. What woman would put up with him?
What does a romance writer know? Oh, she’d love to tell him! Instead, she faced straight ahead and waited for the speech to end. She’d
Once the polite applause had died down, Ophelia continued her introduction. “She has written 105 novels and has over two hundred million copies in print. She has been on the New York Times Bestseller list a combined total of 183 weeks. This woman knows how to write.”
Felicity gasped and exchanged an excited look with Tiffani. Obviously, they were both fans of this author. Felicity had read, well, not all those 105 novels, but a good fifty of them.
“Your third judge is Allen Brown of Brown, Anton, and Coolidge Literary Agency.”
A fifty-ish tall, slender man with a pinched face and pale complexion stepped out of the shadows to stand on the unoccupied side of Ophelia. He merely nodded and clasped his hands in front of him. He wore a severe business suit and tie.
Gracias a Dios
. We have a male judge. I was beginning to worry.”
Felicity turned her head sharply. Hot stuff smirked down at her. So he was Latino as well as good looking and sexist. She glared at him and refrained from commenting.
“Mr. Brown has been in the business for twenty-five years. He’s helped hundreds of authors attain fame and fortune and is the agent behind the success of the latest New York Times Bestseller.”