Posted On May 21, 2011 by Print This Post

Becke Davis – The Goddess of Michigan Avenue

“Tell me, Willa,” Dr. Sedona asked gently, “when did you start to believe you were a werewolf?”

The therapist spoke without inflection or judgment, as if she counted any number of werewolf wannabes among her clients, along with mermaids, unicorns and dragons.

“It’s the truth, just like I said.” Willa wound a lock of long red hair around her knuckle until her fingertip turned purple. “It’s in my blood.”

Or more precisely, in her DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid, the author of her fate.

Despite her vivid hair color, Willa was more Big Bad Wolf than Little Red Riding Hood. With very little effort, she could show Dr. Sedona what big pointy teeth she had, but Willa had no desire to see the woman pee her pants or run screaming from the room. Been there, done that, signed the divorce papers.

“Why come to me—or anyone—now?” Dr. Sedona seemed honestly interested in her answer. “Have you come to a turning point in your life?”

Hah. Her life was one big sinkhole of turning points, very few of her own choice. The escalating loss of control during her monthly transformations was one reason she’d come here. Another was her almost desperate longing to connect with others of her kind. An aching emptiness—a feeling of loss, of being incomplete—had always been a part of her. A pack animal without a pack, a woman without her other half. She was sick and tired of being alone.

“I thought…I thought it might help to talk to someone.” And now it was too late to call back the words damning her as a freak.

Like all world class bad ideas, Willa’s decision to go for counseling initially struck her as practical, almost brilliant. And, it was true, spilling her secrets to the acclaimed Michigan Avenue therapist had been a huge rush, almost as good as sex.

But now the experience was turning out like sex in other ways, too: messy, complicated and ultimately unsatisfying—not to mention potentially dangerous. At least she didn’t have to worry about getting pregnant, although there was a good chance Dr. Sedona wouldn’t respect her in the morning.

The therapist stopped fiddling with her iPad after typing God knows what in Willa’s case file. It had been a mistake to choose the more experienced therapist when she could have just as easily unloaded her crap on the incense-drenched ditz who’d rattled on about crystals and auras.

Coming here was a mistake on too many levels to contemplate, and yet what was the alternative? She had to talk to someone or her brain would explode, and Dr. Sedona was bound by doctor-patient privilege. It was the only reason she’d worked up the nerve to do this, and even now she was having doubts.

In for a penny…

“I’m not a werewolf—not exactly,” Willa corrected, visions of straitjackets dancing in her head. “As I understand it, those are Lykánthropos, humans transformed by the bite of an infected wolf into something more than wolf, less than human.”

At least, that’s what she’d been told.

Dr. Sedona gave her an encouraging smile. “What are you, then?”

…in for a pound.

“I’m Homo sapiens subspecies lupinus—a race descended from Romulus and Remus, carrying the genes of the she-wolf who nursed them.”

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40 Responses to “Becke Davis – The Goddess of Michigan Avenue”

  1. Bravo, Becke! Funny, vivid excerpt. I dig the way you introduce the protag and her situation through conversation and her thoughts.

    I can relate to Willa’s longing to belong, and to her frustration in that none of her efforts have worked. One-liners like the one that starts, “Been there, done that” and the comparison between psychotherapy and bad sex are LOL funny!

    Since most wordage is devoted to Willa’s thoughts, and the rest taken up primarily by conversation, there’s not much we learn about her surroundings or Dr. Sedona. That makes it hard for me to discuss this excerpt the way I would the examples Toni McGee Causey cited, but that’s okay by me. The protag’s inner environment is more interesting than a shrink’s office.

    Because Willa dwells on her problems and her frustration over her failure to resolve them, I get the picture that she is determined, borderline desperate, somewhat flaky, imaginative, and of course witty. Her playing with a lock of her hair tells me she’s prone to bad habits—annoying, but not exactly harmful.

    Willa feels like a loser. Shucks, she probably IS a loser. But that won’t stop her. She’s going to resolve her big problem or die trying. I can readily identify with a heroine like this.

    Because I’m a mythology buff, the allusion to Romulus and Remus caught my attention. Okay, I’m familiar with the story of how the newborn twins were abandoned in the wilderness, then adopted and suckled by Luperca the she-wolf. And I’m willing to suspend disbelief so that I can not only see them as historical (rather than mythological) figures, but also tie them in to the goings-on in a contemporary work of fiction.

    But I don’t quite get it how the fact (if that’s the right word) that Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf would give them and their descendants lupine DNA. That would be like saying when human children drink cow’s milk, that gives them and their future offspring bovine DNA.

    That’s not the way genetics works. Perhaps you have an explanation in the text of the novel beyond this excerpt. Still, I thought I should point this out.

    Good luck with “The Goddess of Michigan Avenue”!

    Posted by Mary Anne Landers | May 23, 2011, 11:54 am
  2. Thanks for your very helpful comments, Mary Anne! As the story begins, Willa is pretty fed up – she’s experienced the downside of her “gift,” but she hasn’t come across a single benefit so far. She’s not even sure how much of what her mother told her was the truth.

    “But I don’t quite get it how the fact (if that’s the right word) that Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf would give them and their descendants lupine DNA. That would be like saying when human children drink cow’s milk, that gives them and their future offspring bovine DNA.

    That’s not the way genetics works. Perhaps you have an explanation in the text of the novel beyond this excerpt. Still, I thought I should point this out.”

    The Romulus and Remus legend inspired the story, but I played pretty fast and loose with it – as in the magical DNA. Her line descended from the famous twins, but the powers they inherited were a gift from the gods. Hopefully readers will be able to suspend their disbelief as the details unfold – I don’t want to give away spoilers!

    Posted by BeckeMartinDavis | May 23, 2011, 12:37 pm
  3. Becke –

    You know I love Willa and Dante’s story! Can’t wait to read more.

    Kels

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | May 23, 2011, 5:48 pm
  4. Becke… you know, this is wonderful. I have no notes. 🙂 (except to say hurry up and write this one, okay?)

    Seriously, I think you did an excellent job with POV here and you grabbed my attention with the unlikelihood of her telling a therapist about this. I cracked up about not wanting to see the woman pee herself and run from the room and then the bit about the divorce. *Nicely* done, woman.

    So… you’re almost done with this, right? 🙂

    Posted by toni mcgee causey | May 23, 2011, 10:59 pm
  5. Toni – I’m doing a happy dance right now! I’m pushing toward the end of this one. You just gave me a really nice boost! Hopefully I’ll make up for lost time with the writing tomorrow, after a five-hour power cut tonight. I’m still kicking myself for letting my laptop battery die!

    Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | May 23, 2011, 11:30 pm
  6. I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot and say your voice is more fitting for woo-woo than rom suspense because I want you to finish the rom suspense you’ve set aside. That being said, I love Willa and Dante and their story, and I’m lucky to be one of your CPs.

    Posted by jennifer tanner | May 23, 2011, 11:47 pm
    • Jen – Your support has kept me going when I thought Imposter Syndrome would bring the story to a grinding halt. I’m not giving up on the romantic suspense story; I just needed to let it sit for awhile. Once I finish this one, it will be fun deciding which story to go back and tackle next!

      Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | May 25, 2011, 6:42 pm
  7. Wow! I admire your style and the way you ahndle the otherworldly aspects of the story. And you had me hanging on for more with that last line.

    Robin

    Posted by Robin Covington | May 24, 2011, 12:54 pm
    • Thanks, Robin! I don’t think world-building is my strength, but I do like to write paranormals. The way I handle it is to set stories in a normal world, add some magical and/or paranormal aspects and mix it all up. Hopeful it will work in this story!

      Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | May 25, 2011, 6:44 pm
  8. Thanks, Robin! I was nervous about cutting it off mid-scene like that.

    Posted by BeckeMartinDavis | May 24, 2011, 1:31 pm
  9. Becke, this is very exciting for me to read. I’ve waited for some time to get to read just a few sentences. It was worth the wait.

    I’ve always wondered what therapists say to clients who claim to be vampires and werewolves. Now I know.

    Setting up Willa’s and Dr. Sedona’s core conflict: well done. Getting us inside her head: well done. Willa is a unique character with a deliciously wicked sense of who she is and the impact she might have on others (who probably won’t respect her in the morning – great line!).

    Dr. Sedona is someone I find interesting, too. The “more experienced” therapist – yes! These two are in for some howlin’ action.

    Posted by Mary McFarland | May 24, 2011, 5:18 pm
    • Mary!! I’m so excited you posted a comment here! Any time you want to read my works-in-progress, just say the word. I’m a little intimidated because I think you are a much more scholarly writer than I am. As you can see, my stories tend to be a little weird.

      Willa is definitely in for a wild ride – and these two pages barely hint at the romance she’s about to tumble into.

      I’m pushing to finish the story but – aak! – I still have to write the tagline, pitch, query and synopsis, too. Which is why you haven’t seen me on Facebook much lately!

      Hope your writing is going well, and that your health is back to normal now. Thanks again for stopping by!

      Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | May 24, 2011, 6:50 pm
  10. Yesterday Toni posted a couple of assignments with her POV checklist. I’ve attempted this one:

    “Write a scene (which will not be in your final book, obviously), which
    shows a character from your story doing something they are ashamed of
    doing. This can happen in the present day of your story, or could have
    happened any time in your character’s past. Show us from his or her POV
    not only what he’s doing, but why he’s doing—without ever explicitly
    telling us the why – but we get it by seeing it in action.”

    This is a scene that’s referred to in my story, but we never actually see it happen:

    Deep down, Willa believed it was wrong to hide such a critical part of herself from her husband. All the magazine articles said so. Right. She’d discovered there were a few exceptions those so-called experts neglected to mention—if she’d known that an hour ago, she could have saved herself a lot of humiliation. Praying for amnesia, her brain responded by playing back a frame-by-frame rerun of the stupidest thing she’d ever done.

    “Are you planning to spend all night in there?”

    Willa didn’t have to open the bathroom door to know Sloan was already reaching for the remote. Damn that Craig Ferguson—Willa personally blamed late night television for the feeble state of their sex life. The body reflected in the mirror wasn’t half bad, but it was old news to her husband. She had a sure-fire way to make him sit up and take notice, if she could stop futzing around and just do it. Christ, it had come to this—who needed a life coach when she had taglines for running shoes to inspire her?

    Gathering her courage, Willa strolled back into the bedroom, stark naked.

    “What took you so long?” Sloan gave her chest an appreciative glance, then turned up the TV.

    Well, crap. The girls he’d once written odes to—she remembered one line praising “nipples like marishino cherries” (she hadn’t corrected his spelling of the m-word, as much as she wanted to)—had just been trumped by a posh-voiced shark puppet.

    “Sloan? Can you turn off the television?” Willa struck a provocative pose. “I want to show you something.”

    That caught his attention. “Did you get something pierced? Hang on, let me just see the end of this.”

    Grinding her teeth, Willa switched off the bedroom light and opened the window blinds. Moonlight flooded the room, providing all the illumination she needed.

    Sloan patted her pillow. “Aren’t you coming to bed?”

    “Hang on a minute.” Damn it, she had to focus if she was going to pull this off. Closing her eyes, Willa put herself through the routine she’d taught herself, picturing her energy as a ball of lightning spinning in front of her. She channeled her power into the ball until it sent out sparks—actual sparks that shot across the room in a glittering fireworks display. Sloan’s frightened gasp was drowned out by the roaring in her head as the change flowed through her like an electrical charge.

    Her facial features reformed into the snout of a wolf, blurring her vision, and long incisors pressed down on either side of her tongue. She hit the carpet on all fours, arching her back when her skin sprouted its familiar, furry pelt. The pain was so close to pleasure it was impossible to distinguish between the two. Willa shuddered with orgasmic release, not realizing until she last wave died down that she was alone, Sloan’s screams echoing in the small bedroom. Lifting her snout, she sniffed the air, her wolf’s infallible instincts leading her to a trail of urine. Alarmed, Willa quickly shifted back to human form.

    “Sloan?” Her voice was hoarse and shaky, her body drained by the too-quick change.

    “Don’t hurt me!” Sloan huddled against the front door, wide-eyed and barely recognizable in the extremities of fear. Sobbing now, he babbled incoherently, begging her to spare his life.

    Willa dressed quickly, throwing her necessities into an overnight bag. She had to use the back door when she left.

    Posted by BeckeMartinDavis | May 26, 2011, 10:59 am
    • Thank you, Becke. Another fun glimpse into Willa’s life. This time we get to see her in her lupine form. And we learn that things are pretty bad for her in her human form, especially in regard to her love life.

      But at least she got that negligent husband’s attention!

      Posted by Mary Anne Landers | May 26, 2011, 12:31 pm
  11. That she did, but her act of honesty tolled the end of her marriage. She’s now convinced her wolfish nature makes her a freak, her power of transformation a secret to be kept at all costs. It’s a major drawback to any possibility of a future relationship, complicated even more by her unresolved issues with Sloan. Willa is a real mess!

    Posted by BeckeMartinDavis | May 26, 2011, 12:44 pm
  12. And by the way – thanks!!

    Back to the writing cave. I have a story to finish, and a pitch, query and synopsis to write. I need chocolate – or an umbrella drink!

    Posted by BeckeMartinDavis | May 26, 2011, 12:46 pm
  13. Wow. I hope you’ll put this up on your website one day as a bonus for your readers!

    Posted by jennifer tanner | May 26, 2011, 5:04 pm
    • Now there’s a thought…

      I want you to know I went through this twice deleting “as” and “and” wherever I could. There are still a few too many. 🙁

      Posted by BeckeMartinDavis | May 26, 2011, 5:14 pm
      • hee yes, I know ; )

        Posted by Linda Middlecamp | May 26, 2011, 7:44 pm
        • Linda – Jennifer is wonderful at catching my overused words (I’m blind to them, apparently). First it was passive words like “was.” (See, there it is again!) Now I’ve moved on to new problem words. It drives me nuts when I do that!

          Posted by BeckeMartinDavis | May 26, 2011, 7:50 pm
          • Yes, and she’s exceptionally kind about it, too! It is hard to find expertise, kindness and encouragement all in one tidy package. Thanks Jen!

            Posted by Linda Middlecamp | May 26, 2011, 8:01 pm
      • LOL. I do the same thing. There is something about posting a page in isolation after I’ve gone over a zeeeelllion times, and think I caught everything, and then as soon as it’s up, BANG, I see more glaring mistakes. (oy)

        This is wonderful. I love how she thought that was a great idea because she shouldn’t keep secrets and now she’s humiliated and ashamed of who she is because her own husband was absolutely terrified of her. (Ya know, a little conversational warning him ahead of time might have helped. 🙂 LOL.) Truly excellent, Becke!

        Posted by toni mcgee causey | May 26, 2011, 11:48 pm
  14. I’ll second that, Linda!

    Posted by BeckeMartinDavis | May 26, 2011, 8:03 pm
    • Yes!
      Becke, your story is wonderful. Keep going and don’t worry too much about those overused words…your wonderful crit partners will let you know about that. Your task is to put the story down…and everything from there will be easy ; )

      Posted by Linda Middlecamp | May 26, 2011, 8:10 pm
  15. Becke,

    Love the idea of a werewolf talking to her shrink. Cracked me up!

    Tracey

    Posted by TraceyDevlyn | May 26, 2011, 8:32 pm
  16. Becke….this story is going to be howling good…lol…..you’ve got all the great elements here…..best of luck to getting it finished!!!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | May 26, 2011, 9:37 pm
  17. Thanks, Tracey and Carrie!

    Posted by BeckeMartinDavis | May 26, 2011, 10:16 pm

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