Rough Cut: Introducing my Protagonist

Rough Cut: {The Heroine of my Story: Aurora Bourne}

Please tell me what you think of Aurora. I’d really appreciate your feedback!

Aurora surfs. A young friend of mine, a women’s champion surfer, vetted my surf scenes. They were fun to write. But my editor says they don’t do anything to “move the plot”. Most of the surfing scenes have been cut. It hurt.

It’s almost the Millennium – the Turn of the Century. Aurora Bourne is a surfer, artist, and organic gardener who lives alone in a Santa Cruz beach cottage on the West Side. She commutes to the agricultural South County to teach elementary school.

Below is the way I introduce Aurora at the beginning of my novel. Editor says to cut this. Too “touchy feelie” for the mass market? I don’t know. This is who she is. And I like her cat. What do you think?

Cover for Fruit of the Devil with Protagonist

Cover for Fruit of the Devil with Protagonist


Chapter 2. Saturday, July 23, 1998. 6:30 am
Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz Westside.
North Santa Cruz County, California.

Aurora grabbed her board out of her pickup and hurried down the wooden stairs to the tidepools. The tropical storm far out at sea was in the scent of the air, and in the quality of light casting hard shadows on the western side of the lighthouse. The rising sun had nearly burned away the fog. Opalescent water and wet sand reflected the sky turning pink and gold. She picked her way over slippery rocks. Iridescent seaweed and saltwater shimmered and surged. She dropped her board onto the surge and belly paddled away from the dangerous rocks. First one in the water, not counting the otter asleep in the kelp.

Stabs of cold water trickled into her wetsuit. Paddle, paddle, up and over the first wave. Paddle, paddle and – boom! A huge outsider was breaking on top of her.

Aurora barely had time to turn her board over, pull the board’s nose down into the avalanche of whitewater, hang on, and dive.

Salt in the eyes and up the nose. Ice down the back, cold water rushing in between her wetsuit and her skin. Roaring thunder in her ears, inside her skull. Tumbling . . . She held her breath and her chest filled with fire. Which way is up?

She burst through the tumult into the fresh air on the other side of the wave. A rooster tail filled with rainbows steamed and hissed off the backside of the wave. A mist of cold water sprayed her face. Breathe! Ah!

Paddle, paddle, sit up on the back of the board, frog kick to turn.

She looked over her shoulder, laid back down on her belly, and stroke, stroke, faster now yes – push, WHOOSH! Down she dropped, weightless for an instant, then standing. She dug in with her back foot, twisted hard, turned right, and – she was in a magical tunnel without time.

In the tube – blue green celadon, translucent – a rushing sound like in a dream – eternal – nothing but white noise and heavenly luminosity, a singing of angels, an enveloping FORCE – then, zoom – shoot out, twist hard, up, over the top, kick out – YES! First wave of the day! Nirvana! Utter exhilaration! Complete mental and physical engagement. Focus, or drown.

She grabbed her board and dove as another heavy, salty tumult broke over her.


Aurora hosed off her wetsuit, hung it on the line, and rinsed off in the outdoor shower. Then she pulled her braid over her shoulder and squeezed out the water. The summer sun had bleached her hair to a deep gold, as usual. She needed to make an appointment to get the split ends trimmed before school started. Standing barefoot on the damp patio bricks, she shivered.

She greeted the fish and the spirit of the falling water in the half wine barrel goldfish pond, and adjusted the grapefruit-sized Big Sur jade rocks in the waterfall to improve the tone. Satisfied that the sound of the falling water would be conducive to an alpha brain wave state, she began the Qigong practice she’d learned from Master Chien.

            Inhale strength from the core of Mother Earth, drawing nurture through the roots. Experience springs gushing forth at the soles of the feet…we are water… breathe….

Aurora’s awareness returned to the sound of the waterfall and the cold bricks numbing her feet. Tiptoeing to the hot tub, she opened the cover and slid into the steaming water. She stretched out to her full five feet one inch and sank underwater in complete relaxation. When she came up for air, she wriggled like a fish, her spine loose and flexible, opened her legs wide, and stretched at the hips. Then she turned on the jets and let the bubbles massage her while she gazed through the arbor framing the entrance to her garden.

Everything was in full bloom. In the spring, she’d filled the flowerbeds with old-fashioned cottage garden seed mixes and had scattered native wild flower seeds everywhere. Now there was a fragrant, multicolored profusion of orange, blue, yellow, purple, and pink waking in the morning sun. The pear, persimmon, fig, plum, apple, and avocado trees were loaded with fruit. A jay scolded a mockingbird, who was helping himself to the ripe raspberries. Summer squash, pole beans, and leafy greens filled the little organic vegetable garden. And the tomatoes were finally almost red.

At the feeder, the usual little birds – house finches, sparrows and juncos – crowded and pushed. The hanging cylinder of wire mesh that held thistle seeds was covered with bright goldfinches. A migrant hummingbird, the Black-chinned, was feeding at the red flowers of the pineapple guava. An Anna’s, the only year-round resident hummingbird in the Monterey Bay, charged the Black-chinned with a “zzzzzzrl” of high-speed wings.

The migrant and the resident went at it fiercely, battling for territorial dominance. With a brilliant flash of their colors – sapphire violet, fiery red, and iridescent emerald, the small feathered warriors flew high into the air, and together spun and tumbled from the sky. Just before crashing to the ground, the ball of twisting, sparking fire veered with angry clicks and psstcheeeew’s into the kiwi thicket. Kiwis hung ripening on vines twining along the fence.

Aurora squinted to soften and blend colors and edges, composing her next painting in her mind. She looked forward to getting out her paints and easel later in the day.

She tried to ignore the loneliness scratching at her heart. Over thirty, and still alone. What’s wrong with me? Am I ever going to find true love? She turned off the Jacuzzi bubbles, held her breath and sank under the water.

When she came up for air, her big black cat was sitting on the small wrought iron table next to the hot tub waiting for her. He blinked his yellow eyes and meowed.

“Ready for breakfast, Blue?”

The cat shook himself so hard he nearly lost his balance. His ears flapped against his head with a sound like a little hand drum and the bell on his collar rang.

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