Archives

WIPpet Wednesday: A Tender Moment

Happy Wednesday!  Here in western NY, we’re having a raging snow storm.  Everyone is home from school, and I’m lounging on the couch with my laptop.  Sadly, this may mean the concert I was supposed to play in tonight will be canceled.  Ah, well.

A bit of housekeeping: I’ve decided to take the plunge and purchase Internet real estate.  That means in preparation for porting my blog to its new home, I’m going to combine this one with my other one (where I write about faith/church/social justice).  A lot of my fiction falls in that category too, so it’s all good.  I just don’t want anyone to be alarmed that the URL is different when I post stuff.  I should have that all done in the next couple of days, so my next WIPpet will be on the combined blog.  The switch to my own site won’t happen for a while yet.

For today’s WIPpet, I’m returning to Phin’s world.  I’ll have my new WIP well on its way by April, so I’ll post more of it then.  In the meantime, I thought you’d like to read a nice moment between Dani and Vic, since the last encounter with them was contentious.  No special math, just a bit from the 3rd scene of chapter 12.

He looked at her, his eyes suddenly full of tenderness. “You’re a fiery woman. How could I not love you?”

She laughed and turned toward him, drawing him in for another kiss. This time, they didn’t stop, letting heat and need build between them for several long, intense moments. Eventually, Vic pulled back slightly to look at Dani.

“Do you need to get back?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I’m not in a hurry. Phin and Alex are with the kids.”

He eyed her. “And they won’t wonder what happened to you?”

“No.” She made a face. “And I hope they’re not trying to guess, either.”

Vic laughed and stood up, causing Dani to lurch sideways. She glared at him until he extended his hand to her, which she accepted reluctantly. He pulled her to her feet.

“Then let’s take our time,” he suggested.

He drew her up the stairs and into the bedroom. The early evening sun streamed in the window, muted by the partially drawn curtains. Slowly, they undressed each other, pausing in between to kiss and touch. They lingered, enjoying the freedom to be unhurried by their responsibilities and the need to maintain secrecy.

Many thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting.  Don’t forget to link up and read the other entries!

WIPpet Wednesday: Something New!

Letting myself spend a week writing crap followed by a couple of days of just reading worked wonders on my creativity.  I’ve started a new project that I’m actually enjoying.  I learned 4 things about my writing in the process:

  1. I like to twist and bend classic myths, fables, and fairy tales, but not merely to give them a modern retelling.
  2. I do best when I don’t take myself (or my story) too seriously.
  3. I prefer an interesting story with a romantic sub-plot rather than a romantic story with an interesting sub-plot.
  4. I like writing from a man’s perspective.

That last one produced a hell of a lot of facepalming on my part.  I never wanted to be one of those writers who thinks white men are a stand-in for everyone everywhere, like they’re the generic average.  Though maybe I can be excused, since most of my male MCs are not your typical straight, white dudes.  Besides, some of my writer friends who are men enjoy writing from a woman’s POV, and they do it very, very well.  Turnabout’s fair play, right?

Since it’s the first Wednesday of the month, I’m posting the first scene from the new novel.  I’ll be back to sharing little bits from my other project, since I don’t have nearly enough written on this one to keep things going.  So this is a teaser, and then I’m hiding it until more is done.  No fancy WIPpet math this time, but feel free to comment on what story you think this might be based on.

Also, my MC is named Micah.  My apologies to the 3 people I know who bear that name–he’s not based on you, I promise.  It was just a nice, not-too-common Bible name, which is what I needed.  I thought Obadiah was a bit of overkill.

Micah Forbes had just stripped off his clothes for a shower when his phone rang. He stood in the middle of his bedroom, completely naked, debating. After two more rings, he decided to pick it up. Self-conscious despite the fact that the caller wouldn’t know his state of undress, he slung a towel around himself and looked at the number.

Oh, hell. He almost didn’t answer, but then he decided talking to his brother would be better than the nasty voice mail and subsequent return call. “Hello, Elijah,” he said, trying to keep the irritation out of his voice. Elijah only ever called when he wanted something.

“Got the all-clear on Pop’s will,” Elijah said.

So much for pleasantries first. “Great. Whatever he left you, go enjoy it with my blessings. I need to get ready for work.” If that was all Elijah wanted, there was no point in lingering. Micah extended the phone, about to end the call.

“Wait!” Elijah shouted.

Micah pressed the phone back to his ear. “What.” He didn’t make the same effort not to sound annoyed this time.

“He left all of us something. Even you.” There was a vaguely smug tone to Elijah’s voice.

“Oh, really?” Micah imagined that his late father had left him something petty and ridiculous, like the collection of old newspaper clippings in which he was featured.

“Yep. Of course, you knew Jeremiah would take over the church and get the main house. I got all his book deals—which is fine, since I was already ghost writing for him anyway. Plus, I got the second house.”

Micah resisted the urge to tell Elijah that he shouldn’t brag about the crap he was passing off as “books.” Instead, he said, “Get to the point.”

“You got Pop’s house on Seneca Lake.”

Micah groaned; he couldn’t help it. That house was worth less than the collection of news clippings. None of the Forbes sons had been there since Micah was thirteen or so, and he had no idea when their father had last been there. He had no way of knowing if the house was in any condition to sell it, which meant months of work and a lot of money just to unload it on someone else. He would never recover the loss from fixing it up.

Elijah laughed. “It’s in your hands now, little bro. Meanwhile, I think I’ll write Pop’s biography. Enjoy your inheritance. Good luck—you’ll need it, unlike me.” He hung up.

“Well, fuck you too!” Micah shouted into the phone, even though there was no one there.

He flopped backwards on his bed, the towel slipping from his hips. Sighing deeply, he ran his hands over his face. He didn’t have time to deal with this properly at the moment. It wasn’t that he begrudged his brothers their success—or, at least, the success their father had bestowed upon them. It was more that even in death, his father continued to make it plain exactly how much worth he believed his youngest son had.

Micah rose from the bed and headed to the bathroom. There would be time to figure things out in two weeks when the school year was over. For the moment, he needed to concentrate on successfully graduating his fifth graders to middle school.

Happy writing, folks!  As always, thanks to K. L. Schwengel, and don’t forget to link up and read the other entries.

WIPpet Wednesday: Kiss and Make Up

derivative work: Nevit Dilmen (Love_Heart_broken.svg) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)],

By Love_Heart_broken.svg: Nevit Dilmen (talk) via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  The sun is shining, which is a rare treat this time of year where I live.  Not that it’s warm, mind you, but at least there’s a glimmer of hope.

I’m continuing to post bits of my completed novel because it’s now in its second round of beta reading and because I’m in a complete and total writing funk.  I’ve started four projects in the last week, and none of them have the right feel.  I’m sure there’s something underlying my inability to write anything better than “It was a dark and stormy night,” but heaven only knows what it is.  I’m consoling myself by taking a break and reading instead.

This week’s snippet is far shorter than last week’s, but it hardly matters (you’ll see why).  I thought I’d give you a little treat for patiently reading the rest of what I’ve posted over the weeks.  My math was simple: 2 x 26 = 52, so 52 words.

The context is that Phin has decided he needs to confess to someone what he’s really doing at the school, so he asks Alex to go somewhere with him to discuss it.  They get a little (ahem, a lot) distracted after their conversation.

All Phin cared about now was being two inches from Alex and how he wanted nothing more than to make up for all the time they’d spent apart. He reached out and rested his hand on Alex’s neck. When he received confirmation in Alex’s eyes, Phin closed the gap and kissed him.

Awww.  Now, how many different ways can Phin find to screw this up?  Mwahahaha!

Thanks to K.L. Schwengel for hosting.  Join in the fun by posting your link here.  Happy writing!

WIPpet Wednesday: He’s More into You than You Thought

Happy Wednesday!  It’s been a productive week.  I wrote some stuff for an anonymous community I belong to, and the response was pretty overwhelmingly positive. (I’m not sharing it here; like I said, anonymous.  The whole point is to write free without people knowing who you are/having preconceived ideas.)  I’m always a little surprised when I get positive feedback because I am so critical of my own work.  I can go back through it and find dozens of little things I think I ought to fix.  Until I started writing seriously, I never considered myself a perfectionist.  Yeah.

I’m sticking with this novel for now, even thought it’s done with Beta Round 1, because my awesome betas suggested adding an entire scene in the last chapter.  Thankfully, I have my own “educational consultant” (aka, my husband).  He gave me an idea for a terrific plot twist.

Today’s WIPpet math is: 19 +14 x 2 = 66 sentences.  You get a nice, long section.  One of my betas said Dani is her favorite character.  Hopefully, this gives a bit of insight into who she is.

Vic said, “It’s an option for ‘failing’ schools. They don’t have to worry about the Department of Education breathing down their necks, so they can teach however the hell they want, and it makes money for them and all their investors. It’s a done deal, Dani. Phin told me everything when he showed up. He’s supposed to give the impression that he’s creating a ‘school improvement plan’”—he made air quotes—“but he’s really scoping things out to give the go-ahead on the charter.”

That confirmed Dani’s suspicion that there was a connection between NYSED and EduText, though she still couldn’t quite see how the pieces fit together. “I see.” Dani crossed her arms. “That doesn’t explain why you never told me what you knew.”

Vic looked up at her, his expression pleading. “He asked for my help.”

She stepped back a pace, feeling as though she’d been punched. “You agreed.”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“You know as well as I do that the school is in trouble. The state’s going to do something no matter what. By giving him what he wanted, I thought I could keep you out of it. All I told him was that you knew everything about the school because of your job.”

“You actually sent him to me to work me over like you just said he does with all his clients?” She gaped at him.

“No! I made him promise he’d leave you alone. He wanted to use you to get information on some of the staff. He told me he’d find someone else.”

“And I handed her to him on a silver platter. What if he’d used Gia like that? You know what she’s like. And Alex is already fighting his own feelings for him—I can see it whenever they’re within twenty feet of each other. You didn’t think to say something to me?”

“I didn’t say anything because I didn’t think it would matter to you what I did.”

“You chose a liar with a dubious history over me.” She closed her eyes. “Over us.”

“Us?” He gestured between them. “There’s no us, Dani. You’ve made that clear. We never made a commitment to each other. For more than a year, you’ve been using me. I wanted him to get in, do his job, and get out so that I could move on. You think you’re the only one who’s been tired of waiting? I’m sick of waiting for you to figure your shit out and decide what you want.”

“What I want? Like you’re just an innocent bystander, right? I don’t recall you objecting to anything we’ve done. And now you’re ready to just move on?”

He sighed. “Yes. I can’t do this anymore. God knows, I’ve tried. I practically helped you raise Jake when his daddy died, but you keep shutting me out. I’m not your security blanket. You gotta move on, or I’ll do it without you. I’m not asking you to forget Jim, but I sure as hell can’t just be someone to keep you warm at night.” He snorted. “As if you’re even letting me that far in.”

“So, you thought if you helped Phin destroy the school, that would—what? Force me to choose you?” She glared at him. “You know you’ve lost that chance now, don’t you?” She stalked to the doorway. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Vic rising from his seat and reaching out his hand to her.

“Dani, wait. That’s not—”

She couldn’t listen anymore. Ignoring him, she continued to the front door and walked out, pulling it shut behind her. She heard Vic call her name once more, and she almost turned around. Instead, she retreated to the safety of her own home, refusing to acknowledge the sound of his voice.

Many thanks to K L Schwengel for hosting.  Don’t forget to read the other entries and add your own.  Happy writing, and I’ll see you next week!

WIPpet Wednesday: That Old-Time Religion

I nearly forgot about this. Good thing it’s still early in the day (not even 9:30am EST).  I’m still posting bits from this novel because I haven’t gotten my last chapter back from my beta readers yet, and there’s a ton of work to do getting this thing whipped into shape once it goes to the second round of readers.  Really, though, I’m just not ready to let it go.  Anyone else find that your characters become like extended family?  We’ve been together for so long that I’m reluctant to end that relationship.

Anyway, today you get 12 lines.  And my math is cool!  Today is the 12th, but if you add all the digits in today’s date, you get…12!  (Hey, I married a math teacher; what do you expect?)

Warnings for swearing.  When he’s not working, Phin’s got a mouth on him.  I think it’s in rebellion against his snooty upbringing.

___________________________________

By pham xuan nghi, via Wikimedia Commons

 

“You brought me to a fucking church?”

“You may wish to filter your language a little.” Alex looked sideways at Phin. “This is where I go on Sunday mornings.” He offered no further explanation. He got out of the car and stood next to it.

“You could’ve warned me. What if I were Jewish or something?”

“I know you’re not.”

With a sigh, Phin climbed out of the car. He didn’t want to be rude, but he didn’t want to go in, either. “I’m not really the church type.”

Alex shrugged. “You don’t have to come in.” He started walking.

Another challenge. Phin frowned and said, “No, I’ll go.” He followed Alex toward the building and quickly caught up. “God. I haven’t been to church in—what, fifteen years?”

“I promise, we don’t bite.” Alex tilted his head to the side. “You used to go to church?”

“My parents are Presbyterians, yeah.” Not that it made a goddamn bit of difference in their lives. “You’re Catholic?”

With a chuckle, Alex replied, “You’re joking, right? No. This is a Lutheran church.”

“Ah. Catholic lite.”

Alex swatted his arm. “Jerk.”

___________________________________

Wonder what Phin will think of his religious experience.  For the record, I do not think Lutherans are “Catholic lite.”  I happen to be Lutheran, and I’ve heard it before.  Repeatedly.  If you’re going to say something stupid to me, be warned it may appear in a future story. *evil grin*

As always, go here to read the other WIPpet entries and add your own!

WIPpet Wednesday: Girl Talk

Happy Wednsday, everyone!  I’m linking up with another great WIPpet.  If you’d like to play along, just click this link or visit our host, K. L. Schwengel.

Speaking of that, I got to do a fun WIPpeteer interview! You can read it here.

In other exciting news, my penultimate (ok! I admit it! I like that word!) chapter is with my beta readers now.  Once I get the last chapter back, I have a few more beta readers lined up for round two, and then I get to decide what to do with it (publish it; duh).  I’m going to admit my complete, massive fear here because I’ve never published a whole book before.  Being able to say (in a very deep voice), “Why, yes, I am a published author” is a real possibility now.  **INSERT MASSIVE FREAK-OUT HERE**

Ahem.  On to my excerpt.  When we last left Phin, he was in the company of Gia on a whirlwind tour of the town.  Just what did those two kids get up to, you may be wondering.  Well, I’m not going to spell it out for you.  Just read the two lines (for the first WIPpet of the 2nd month) of dialogue between Dani and Gia and let your imagination fill in the rest.

_________________________

“We came back here and messed around a little while we watched a movie. Oh, my god, Dani, guys my age are so selfish, but he kept asking if I liked what he was doing. Seriously, dudes need lessons from Phin on how to give good—”

“Gia!” Dani squeaked. She felt herself flush. “Stop. Too much information.”

_________________________

Sounds like they had a, um, nice time there.  See you all next week!

Lilacs

The whole park smells wonderful. I love the scent of lilacs. The timing is perfect this year; there are thousands of them in bloom.

I walk along the path to the greenhouse. I always like to see what’s growing in there. Lost in the pleasure of the warm spring air and the beauty of life bursting before me, I almost run into the people coming the other way.

“Oh, excuse me,” I say.

But as I go to pass them, I get a good look at one of the men. He sees me too, and his face morphs into a puzzled expression. “I’m sorry,” he says, hesitation tugging at his voice, “but you look familiar.”

I study him for a moment, and then it registers. “Oh my god. Jay Weingart? It’s me, Shel Harrison.”

He smiles. “How long has it been? More than ten years.”

Thirteen, I want to say. Nearly thirteen years since you left.

“You look really…different,” Jay comments.

I’m sure that I do. My hair is much longer, for one thing, and I wear makeup now. I’ve given up hiding my body under overly large t-shirts with rock band logos. I do a lot of things I never would have done back then, including having uncomfortable run-ins with old boyfriends.

There are three other people with him. The girl with honey brown hair and eyes the color of the ocean in winter can’t be anyone else but his daughter. Her face is sweet and honest. She smiles shyly. The other man looks familiar, but I can’t place him. Actually, he resembles no one so much as Mr. Clean. He is entirely bald, although it looks more like he shaves his head that way to hide his receding hairline. He’s compact and muscular. I can see a tattoo peeking out of his shirt sleeve, but I can’t tell what it is. There’s also a slender black-haired girl who stands to the side as though she would prefer not to be noticed.

“I don’t think you’ve ever met my daughter, Alison,” Jay’s saying. He puts his hand on the brown-haired girl’s shoulder, pressing down slightly in affection. “This is Bill.” He gestures to the other man without giving any further context for This-Is-Bill. He doesn’t tell me the black-haired girl’s name.

I feel the lump pressing on my throat. Forcing a smile, I nod politely. I swallow, hard. “Nice to meet you,” I say.

“Likewise,” he says, extending a hand.  He arches an eyebrow, and I can tell he knows—or thinks he knows—something about me.

“Bill graduated a couple years ahead of us. I don’t know if you remember him.”

Ah, now the familiarity made sense. But he’d had hair back then. I think I make a non-committal sort of noise.

“How’s Julie?” I ask.

Jay shrugs casually. “Fine, I suppose.”

“You suppose?” I glance at Jay’s wedding band.

He notices. “We’ve been divorced for a long time. Julie lives in California. I haven’t seen her in years.”

Ah, remarried, then. I desperately want to get out of this awkward conversation. I make some excuse about needing to be on my way. Jay cheerfully waves over his shoulder as the three of them continue on the path.

I no longer feel much like looking in the greenhouse. My insides feel stretched. I wander through the park, trying not to think, without much success.

He acted as if nothing had ever happened. As if we were never more than old classmates. As if he didn’t remember all those days spent fooling around in his bedroom after school when his parents were still at work. As if it was insignificant making each other feel good and pretending, just for a little while, that we were free.

Thirteen years since he’d told me Julie was pregnant. He said he planned to “do the right thing” and marry her. Back then, I thought he was cheating on me with her. It turned out I was his dirty little secret. And now where is she? He’s married to someone else. Someone who should have been me but never could have been.

I was so sure I was over him before today. But as I walk, my hands deep in my pockets, I think maybe I’m not. Except that I’m not in love with him; I’m only in love with the memory of us. But why, oh why, can’t I get those eyes out of my mind?

I stop along the path to listen to a group of musicians. They’re playing a familiar folk song, one I like. Only one other person is listening—an old man sitting on the bench across the path from them.

There are two women and two men. One of the women is playing the violin. She has the longest hair I’ve ever seen; it’s down past her hips, hanging in dark waves that ripple as she fiddles. The other woman plays hand drums and the two men are playing guitar and some kind of pipes.

I hum the tune softly, closing my eyes. My parents used to bring me to some music festival when I was a kid. There would be all these people, playing and singing, making music together. We would camp there for most of a week. The park musicians are playing one of my mother’s favorites.

The song ends. I open my eyes to find the musicians smiling at me. The guitar player catches my eye and winks. I feel my face heating up.

“You sing?” he asks.

“I used to,” I admit. I wasn’t bad. I don’t know why I gave it up. Real life, I suppose.

He mentions a song. “You know that one?”

“Yeah, my parents used to sing that one all the time,” I say.

“Well, come on then, we could use a voice,” Guitar Guy says.

Feeling self-conscious, I join them. Guitar Guy is still watching me, his face unreadable. I can feel my heart rate increasing.

He tilts his head to the side and gives me a smirk. “What’s your name?”

“Shel. Shel Harrison.”

“Well, Shel Shel Harrison, you ready?”

And suddenly, I think maybe I am.