Sunday, March 19, 2017

My African Safari by Alicia Dean

No, unfortunately, I did not actually GO on an African Safari. What I did was write a story in the setting of an African Safari. See, I was asked to be part of an anthology of short stories that were all set in Africa. They could be anywhere in Africa, any premise, suspense, paranormal, etc, as long as they were romance. (I just finished the story, which originally had a deadline of January 26 - and it only had to be 8,000 words. Fortunately for me, a few others were behind as well. Mine ended up being almost 14,000 words. I hope that won't be an issue.) 

Anyway, I considered and discarded a few plots, until I came up with the one I used. During my research, I discovered lots of interesting facts, but one of the MOST interesting was that, I would dearly LOVE to go on an African Safari. I know that's a no-brainer for most, but for me, that was never anything that appealed to me. It does now, although I'm sure I'll never go. I'm not really an 'animal' person, but seeing these beautiful creatures in such a gorgeous setting would be amazing! 

Have you ever been on a safari? Would you like to go?

Below is a glimpse into my short story. The snippet is unedited, so please overlook its poor quality. :) I worry a little, because my heroine is not a very nice person in the beginning. I hope readers will stick with me until she's redeemed. 

After dying for the third time, unloved and unlovable Autumn Baines is running out of chances to avoid purgatory. For her latest life, she’s sent to the Serengeti, where she’ll have to perform a selfless act and find someone to love her. She sees her chance with the arrival of widowed father Logan McBride and his teen daughter.

Faced with an opportunity to make a tremendous sacrifice, she’ll have to decide…can she forego her eternal happiness to give them theirs?

Excerpt: *Revised after Anni's tips, and a few things I noticed :)

Milo drove them to a watering hole where a small herd of zebras drank from the pool.
Jayden perked up visibly. “Oh wow.” Her voice was awe-struck. “They’re beautiful.”
Her earlier combative attitude had fled, and she was suddenly a child filled with wonder. Logan’s expression looked more relaxed. 
Autumn unexpectedly shared the girl’s sentiment. Her heart swelled, and adrenaline rushed through her blood.  They really were beautiful. And she was right here, in person, no more than ten feet away from the magnificent creatures. Maybe this wouldn’t be such a bad gig after all. After the group had looked to their fill, Autumn said, “Let’s see if we can find some lions.” She searched the surrounding area. Lions were easier to spot this time of year with the greenness of the foliage. During the dry season, they tended to blend in with the yellowish grass.
Jayden gasped out, “Look, Logan!”
Autumn followed her gaze. A giraffe had joined them, walking alongside the vehicle. Autumn’s pulse jumped with excitement. The animal was glorious…and close enough to touch.
Logan’s face lit up, but he was staring at his daughter more than the giraffe. “It’s amazing.”
“Yes.” Jayden’s voice was barely a whisper.
The giraffe ambled away, and Autumn took up the speech like she’d planned the giraffe’s visit. “Such a close look at wildlife is not as rare as you might think. One on of the tours, three leopards parked themselves on top of our land rover.”
“Oh my God, what did you do?” Sharee spoke up for the first time. Autumn was surprised she and Denise had even made it this morning. They’d hit the wine, hard before, during, and after dinner. They were most likely nursing monstrous hangovers.
“Uh, we waited patiently, and quietly, until they decided to go away. I’m not about to argue with a leopard.” Laughter rose, and Autumn grinned at her audience. She had no idea where that had come from. Even though it hadn’t actually happened, the memory of it was as real as if it had.
As did the group, Autumn became more enamored as the day progressed.
They saw hippos, who stuck their heads above the water, then slowly sank beneath the surface, as if bored by the human gawkers. A gorgeous cheetah crouched on a large rock, waiting for prey to wander by. They even spotted a lion, lazing among the tall green grass.

During it all, Logan watched Jayden with a mixture of sadness and love. Jayden alternated between exclamations of glee and sullen bouts of silence. What was the girl’s deal? Her dad had paid a fortune for the trip, and she was treating him like he’d killed Justin Bieber. The tension between the two was palpable. Their dynamic gave Autumn a genius idea. She could accomplish both tasks with these two. A lonely, single dad, a rift between him and his daughter. A perfect opportunity to win their affection. Logan had subtly flirted with her. She could turn up the charm, make him fall in love. The selfless act might be more difficult. But, if she could mend fences between them, that would count, wouldn’t it? It was certainly worth a try.


Jannine Gallant said...

Well, you have me wondering what's going on between father and daughter. As for a safari, I would LOVE to go on one. Wild and free is the way animals should be. Zoos always make me a little sad.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Made me wonder about the reincarnation thing. "Which 'incarnation' am I on and have I 'improved'?"... (oh, the way our brains fly!) flirting 'selfless.' So you've raised questions in this reader's mind. Good on you, girl. Good luck with the story and the trip!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Going on a safari has never appealed to me. I am curious what the friction is between father and daughter. And I think I need to read more about reincarnation. I'm woefully ignorant about that subject.

Diane Burton said...

Nope, never wanted to go on a safari. The word itself conjures up men with big guns shooting animals for souvenirs. I know it's regulated now and most shooting is done with cameras. Still...

Great excerpt. You make me wonder what she can do to mend fences between father and daughter. You also make me ask questions. Why are they estranged? Why is this her third reincarnation? What has she done to fail the other times? BTW, loved the line about Justin Bieber. LOL

Maureen said...

I never really considered a safari, but the photos you have here are absolutely gorgeous!

Alicia Dean said...

Jannine, glad I piqued your curiosity. Yes, I didn't used to even think about it, but animals trapped in zoos is pretty sad.

Thank you, Rolynn! Would love to take the trip one of these days.

Vonnie, apparently, the friction is making everyone curious. Good! :) In my story, it isn't exactly 'reincarnatio' - She is just dropped, body and soul, into a new 'life' but she remains the same. It's not very scientific, LOL. I definitely took creative license.

Yes, Diane, I thought the same, but I'm interested in a safari tour where you only look at the animals. I'm disgusted by the killing of them. Ha, glad you like the line. :) Those are all excellent questions, and they are all answered. I'll be sure to spread the word when the anthology is out, in case you want to read it.

Aren't they, Maureen? There are many places I would love to go, but until I began writing this story, Africa wasn't one of them. I've changed my mind now.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

Andrea Downing said...

When I lived in Nigeria, not exactly known for its game reserves, we went to one--run down and pretty awful. At one point we got out of the jeep and the guide said very quietly there was an elephant. i turned around and couldn't see anything, then looked up and there was this giant eye above me about 5 feet away on the other side of bushes. I have to tell Diane that safari in present day terms has nothing to do with guns--they are in game reserves, preserving the game from hunters and poachers one hopes. It's similar to going someplace like Yellowstone but with different animals! Great premise for a book, btw. Love it.

Alicia Dean said...

Wow, Andrea. Fascinating that you lived in Nigeria. I guess that's true, not all of the game reserves would be well-kept. Thanks so much, glad you like the premise. Ha, I just noticed, I have Autumn grinning twice, right in a row. See...unedited. :)

Anni Fife said...

Hello Alicia. I enjoyed your enticing storyline and excerpt. However, I am very lucky to have spent quite a lot of time on safari in southern and eastern Africa, so I thought I might make a couple of suggestions:
It is doubtful you will ever see a giraffe trotting. They walk along nibbling at tree tops, and might occasionally lope, but they only trot or should I say run in a rather ungainly fashion, when they suspect danger or a predator is chasing them. Also, most doubtful a group of three cheetah's would climb a vehicle, but there have been stories of a leopard doing so.

Hope you find that helpful. :)
Anni xx

Alicia Dean said...

Hi Anni,

Thank you!!! this is very, very helpful. Ha, I could use someone with your expertise to critique the entire thing! I'll correct those immediately. I will have to confess, I ran across some pictures with big cats of some kind laying on top of a land rover. It popped into my mind as I was writing, and I didn't know what kind of cats they were, LOL. Thanks again!

Susan Coryell said...

Seems very realistic (especially for one who has never been on a safari!)Also love the cover. Wouldn't it be nice if we writers could actually visit every setting we describe?

Leah St. James said...

It's never been on my list either, but it is a great concept for a story! Love the excerpt. I'm intrigued by much of what everyone else said! Why is Logan sad when he's looking at his daughter? And why is she calling him "Logan"? I also love the Justin Bieber line!

Jannine Gallant said...

Meant to teenage girls still think Justin Bieber is hot? Or is he old news? My girls aren't impressed with him.

Alicia Dean said...

Susan, thanks so much. Yes, it definitely would be nice! As for the cover, we are not going to have our own individual covers. (Shoot! I should have shared the anthology cover), so I just threw that together so I could use it in promo. :)

Hi Leah, Yes...there are reasons behind each of those. :) Ha, thanks!

Jannine, good point. This girl has just turned 14, so maybe she would be. Although, if he's old news, I should find out who the young teens are into these days. Thanks for the tip!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Zoos are very sad places, aren't they? My dream trip would be to Denali Park. One I do plan to take. Love the Bieber line too, but he may well be old news. One can only wish. Logan definitely needs a woman to help him figure out his daughter. I'm also fond of the waited patiently line. We tend to forget, people encroach on the animals' territory, not the other way around. Best of luck here. Do let us know when they're out.

Alicia Dean said...

Yes, they really are, Margo. LOL. I agree about wishing Beiber was old news (I think spell his name different each time..., let's see, i before e, except after c... Oh well. Anyway, yes, that's true. People to encroach on the animals' territory. Just like shark attacks, as sad as they are for the victim, they were in the wrong place, for sure! You know, about the Bieber line, I don't know that it really matters who kids are truly into. Since it's Autumn's thought, and she doesn't have to know who they're 'really' into, you know? made sense in my head. Thanks so much, I will for sure let you know!

Margo Hoornstra said...

You're right about the Bieber line. It worked for me.

Alicia Dean said...

Great...thanks, Margo!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Safari isn't on my bucket list. I do love animals but I'm content to watch Planet Earth. As far as reincarnation, I'm a firm believer with defining experience.

Alicia Dean said...

Hi Brenda...I never thought it was on my bucket list, but it is now. Thanks for stopping by!