Story-a-Day Flashback!

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I’ve been working on my current manuscript as much as possible today. I had physical therapy and family time, but then I got to stare a lot at my novel and doubt my ability to pull everything together.

For a change of pace, I pulled up an manuscript-in-progress waiting for my love and attention. I hadn’t looked at this story in years, and it was fun to scroll through the scenes and be reminded of what I wrote ages ago. Some parts, I remembered. Other parts I have no memory of at all. It’s nice to be surprised by your own writing!

In any event, I went over a short scene and I’m going to post it here. I do plan to go back to this (after I finish Drowning Karma and The Fairy Tale Asylum–so, you know, in no time at all!).

Evan crawled through the window. He had forgotten his key, or lost it, in some bushes somewhere along the street, but he couldn’t be sure, because he was too drunk. But he did at least remember that the side window was cracked open, and he managed to push it open.

He landed with a thud on the wood floor, where he stayed a few minutes, thinking about sleep and the softness of bed. The sound of the dog padding down the hall made him stir but not get out of way. Alley’s nose nudged his face, his paws dug in his side. Evan moaned, rolled over onto his back and tried to push Alley away when the dog licked his forehead. “Go away,” he whispered, sitting up, with one hand on his forehead. The whir and click of the refrigerator reminded him that he was home, and that he needed to get to bed before his parents found him. He took off his shoes before standing up to slip across the floor and into the living room.

If his parents heard him, he knew what would happen, but he didn’t want to think about why he took such risks when the fun and rebellion he wanted were rarely worth the punishment. A smarter man, he thought, followed the rules or whatever it took to make life easier. He, however, sought his father’s wrath out. The bathroom door creaked and Evan wished he’d taken a leak outside, but he might as well make the hangover pay for itself by being sure his parents knew he’d been drinking.

The house was cold, especially in the dark. It was always cold no matter the heat outside, as if the confines of the house had long ago wrung out any warmth there’d been in the living spaces. Nothing in the house gave warmth, not even the people. Only the dog and the stove offered any heat at all, and the stove Evan had learned to stay from. He had a faint scar across his hand from when his parents had taught him the dangers of heat. Evan wished he could move out. He was old enough, but every time he talked about leaving, saved some money, and found a friend share a place with, his parents came back at him with reasons to stay, they needed his help, the friend wasn’t trustworthy, and his pathetic income rightfully theirs for all that they did for him. After all, they said, they didn’t ask for rent, his mother cooked all his meals, but nothing in life came free and he wasn’t ready to be on his own. “You must pay for what you take,” his father liked to say, “and you take a lot.”

Now in his room, Evan tossed his shoes on a pile of clothes and flopped on the bed, telling himself that he should make it look like he’d gone to bed at a decent hour in his pajamas, but he laid there, staring out into the darkness of his room. The red numbers of the clock read three in the morning. His mind drifted. He thought about the friends he’d been hanging out with that night. They weren’t really friends because it was hard to be friends with people you kept secrets from and couldn’t bring home. He thought about Celia, the one person he didn’t keep secrets from, not yet anyway, and wondered what she was doing.

She was so far away—he tried to figure out the time where she was, but in the alcohol soup of his mind, he didn’t know which way the clock should go—she was either eating breakfast, or finishing dinner or…. He wondered who she had breakfast with and if she thought about or missed him at all. When she’d left, her fingers had tapped the clasp on her purse and her expression told him to please make this farewell brief. He had said he’d wait for her. Celia said that wasn’t realistic—two years was a long time. He promised to wait. How could he not wait for someone who would save him?

Story-a-Day…or Plotting?

trying notecards

trying notecards

Yesterday after I got home from work, I wrote on notecards one-sentence summaries of each scene in my work-in-progress. I jotted down the date of each, too. I’m following a method a friend of mine directed me to here. It took my entire evening, and I didn’t write anything new yesterday. I hate missing another day, but I am glad to have these cards done. And it was writing…of a sort.

When I was an elementary school girl, I used to wish for different parents. I’d day dream about a car pulling up to the school and two wonderful adults getting out to announce they were my real parents, they’d been searching for me all this time, and now they were going to fix everything!

One time when my mother was angry with me, she said (okay, maybe she shouted) that I couldn’t wait from someone else to come along and fix things. I had to do the hard work myself.

Sometimes I still wish that the Magical Someone from the Mystical Land of Everything Works Out is going to waltz in, look at my manuscript, take one look at my manuscript, and say, “Ah-ha! This is what you to do. Right here!” This Magical Someone will know which scenes work and what scenes to add. Then before leaving, this Magical Someone will write my synopsis and cover letter while I take a nap.

Sigh. I think I hear my mother yelling at me…

Thanks for reading.

Oh, fine, Story-a-Day May.

One phase of edits of my novel, Drowning Karma

One phase of edits of my novel, Drowning Karma

I’ve been going through my work-in-progress, and I’ve found a few potholes. I need a few characters to interact. I think. It’s hard to tell. Most of today’s writing time was spent sorting out the timeline. I realized that part of the story was taking place in the beginning of a new year instead of in the end. I jotted down a moment between two characters that I think need more together. Anyway, it’s been a long day. At least, I wrote something.

Cora, her knees in the seat of the chair, leaned over the back of the chair so that her face was inches from Deva’s. “You think I can’t understand, but no one understands better than I do.”

Deva shook her head. “You don’t know me.”

Cora cocked her head and smiled. “And that is a shame, my lovely girl. But that doesn’t mean I can’t see the truth.”

“Truth? I hardly know what that is anymore. I mean, I didn’t know the truth about you.” Deva forced herself to stay where she stood. She wouldn’t back away from Cora.

“Well, that’s okay. I didn’t want you to.” Cora pushed away from the chair and jumped to her feet. “And you didn’t want to either. That’s the thing about the truth, dear Dev. Unlike men and a host of other nightmares, it can’t force itself on you if you’re not truly willing.”

Deva made a face of disgust. “Why do you think you know so much?”

“Why do you think I don’t?” Cora made the most of every step she made. She sauntered around the chair to where Deva stood, stiff and anxious. “You’re like a speck of an insect in a web.”

“I know what I’m doing.”

Cora shook her head, though her smile remained. “I like that.” She sighed and unexpectedly turned away. “Do you know what your mother is doing?”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“What about your grandmother?” Cora strolled over the chair and leaned her back against its own high back. “Has she spoken to you lately?”

“How do you know about that?”

“Lucky guess.” She laughed. “Now, I’ll tell you what you want to know, but you have to do something for me.”

Deva doubted owing Cora any kind of favor ever ended well, but she didn’t know anyone else who could answer her questions. “What?”

“Your Mr. Sebastian won’t see me. I know, I can hardly believe it myself, but you, sweet girl, matter to him. He’ll come see me if you ask him to.”

“Becker?” This made no sense to Deva. “Why do you care? You don’t need him. I didn’t think you could…” She thought the better of what she was going to say.

“What? Love someone?” Cora let her head drop back, arching her back over the back of the chair, her hair pointed down into the chair’s. “Maybe I can’t.”

Deva wished she knew what to do. What damage could it do for Becker to talk to Cora?

Cora whipped herself upright again and in one graceful step was away from the chair again. “But I can try.” She glided over to Deva. She put a hand to Deva’s cheek. “I promise not to hurt him.”

Damn. Missed a Day. Story-a-Day, people!

my art

my art

Yesterday, I felt crummy. I had time to write, but I watched TV instead. So, this evening I’m trying to get back into my writing groove (such as it were).

So, I’m changing a few lines here and there in my manuscript, but I’ve got only a tiny piece of a new scene. It’s definitely in progress.

Thanks for reading!

Valentine’s Day fell on a Monday. A few teachers decorated their rooms in hearts and quotes about love—All you need is love! Love makes the world go round! Love is a many splendored thing!

After history class, Deva darted to her locker but came up short when she reached it. A corner of a red envelope peeked out of the locker’s side. She looked up and down the hall. No furtive glance revealed itself. If it was a joke, the prankster hid well.

With a sigh, she yanked the locker open and caught the envelope as it fell free. Her name was hand printed neatly on the front. She recognized Liam’s handwriting. She took a deep breath, and she knew he was watching even if she didn’t know from where.

Sweet Liam. The memory of his kiss stirred her insides. His hand on her hip had been promising. Deva stared at the envelope. She was going to be late to class if she didn’t hurry. Two quick movements and the card rested in the palm of her hand in four torn pieces. She tossed them into her locker. She would have left them on the floor, but she knew better than to leave a scrap of her personal life where anyone could pick it up.

Almost missed it–Story-a-Day May today!

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I didn’t expect to write this today. But hey, that’s how I do most of my writing. So, here’s a new scene for my WIP. I haven’t even checked it for typos, so I’m sure it will change before all is said and done. But at least I wrote something!

Deva opened a carton of apples and began to place them in the produce bin. Halloween was coming, and the Sunlight had been well stocked of apples, pumpkins, and candy. She’d asked Becker if she could work Halloween. She had no wish to dress and go downtown again or handout candy at home. It would be fine with her to forget about holidays all together with her dad to celebrate them.

Lost in memories of her father, Deva didn’t notice a customer waiting for her attention. “Oh,” she said, looking up. “Sorry. May I…” She recognized the old woman. “You. I talked to you last year at the Halloween Festival.”

The woman looked exactly the same. She wore the same dress. Her white hair was piled under a witch’s hat. “I am happy to see you again,” the woman said. “Though I’m disappointed you aren’t downtown. Look at you. It’s Halloween and you’re in jeans. That’s not worthy of your ancestry, my dear.”

“My ancestry? Who the hell are you?”

The woman smiled. It was a strange smile, containing secrets and unpredictable things. “You’ve a gift, and you’re hiding it away.”

Deva looked at her hands as if this gift were there. She realized she was holding an apple. “I don’t know you and I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I’m sorry about your father. He was a good man. I warned him. I did.”

The apple felt heavy and cold in her hand, and the chill spread up her arm and through to her heart. “You knew my dad? What did you warn him about?”

“Hey, Dev!” came Becker’s voice from the next aisle. “Are you busy?”

The woman glanced in the direction of Becker’s voice. “He’ll watch over you, but you could watch over yourself if you would just use your power. Don’t be afraid of it.”

Deva, thoroughly confused, looked at the woman wile she tried to figure out which question she should demand an answer to, even though the woman seemed determined not to answer anything. She turned her head to shout back at Becker. “Give me a minute!” She looked back and the woman was gone.

Becker walked around the corner. “What’s going on?” he asked, looking alarmed. “Who are you talking to?”

“Didn’t you see her?” Deva walked away from the apple bin and looked around the department. There were no customers in sight and the front doors hadn’t opened in a while. She’d have heard the bell that always sounded when someone came in. “I…”

“You okay?” Becker had been especially attentive since her father’s death. Every lost thread of conversation, every downward glance, made him ask her how she was.

Deva started to set the apple in the bin, but she hesitated. “Yeah, I’m fine. Can I have this apple?”

“Yeah, of course. Are you sure you want to be working tonight?”

She nodded. “I’m going to step outside for a minute. I just want to…”

“What?”

“See the moon. That’s all. Okay?”

Becker frowned, but he nodded. “Do what you need to do, Dev.”

“I guess I need to use my power,” she mumbled, walking away.

Becker watched her go, and he waited until the automatic doors slid shut behind her to say anything. “I’ve always thought so,” he said.

Story-a-Day One Way or Another

the witches1

I did some writing at the skate rink this morning. Writing alone in a room of my own is a nice dream, but sometimes you just have to write where you are.

Anyway, I needed to add this scene to the WIP. Trouble is afoot!

Maggie Gin couldn’t keep her daughter’s concern to herself. The next day she arrived at her daughter’s school to volunteer in the office. She did this every Monday. She stuffed envelopes with fliers and forms for the students to take home to their parents. She made copies and chatted with staff. Everyone agreed she was a great help.

This Monday, Mrs. Gin sorted through the fliers, the ones for the PTA fundraiser and the book fair. The school secretary, Shonda Williams sat her desk, going through messages and writing things down. She noted Mrs. Gin kept glancing her way.

“Everything good with your daughter, Mrs. Gin?” She squinted to make out the handwriting of a message.

“Oh, yes. Of course.” Maggie opened another envelope and slid the required papers in.

“She’s adjusted to middle school really well, hasn’t she?” Shonda scribbled a word out and wrote something else.

“That’s right. And she’s gotten all As. Every year. We’re very proud.”
The secretary crumpled one message and threw it in the metal trashcan. “You must be.” She opened a desk drawer and took out her Post-it notes.

Mrs. Gin straightened the stack of envelopes for the fifth time. They slid out of place only a little, but she kept fussing about with them. “I hope she makes friends more friends. I know how difficult it can be.”

Shonda nodded absently. “Yes, it can be.” She stuck the post-it note to a letter. Then puzzled, she observed at Mrs. Gin. “But Piper has friends, doesn’t she? She’s always with the Martin girl and that Linnette Hoffman. They’ve been friends since…kindergarten? Surely, they’ll be friends forever.”

Mrs. Gin hesitated. “Surely. But…”

“But?” The secretary got a knowing expression. “I see. You might like her to find new friends?
But Deva and Linnette seem like nice enough girls.”

The phone rang. Shonda answered it, and while she was on the phone, Mrs. Gin picked up another envelope. She went through the motions of filling it with papers, but she kept an eye on the secretary. The moment the secretary placed the phone back in its cradle, she spoke. “I just don’t want her to limit herself. You know, get stuck in a clique.”

“Oh.” Shonda scanned her desk. She checked her calendar. “That’s understandable, but your girl is such a positive influence. We all know Linnette’s a bit rough around the edges, but I think Piper is someone we want Miss. Hoffman hanging around. That girl needs to see a stable family.”

“Surely she sees that with Miss. Martin, don’t you think?”

The secretary leaned back in her chair. “Martin’s a sweet girl. Her mother is…well, it’s probably for the best she never volunteers around here. Hey, why don’t I get us some coffee?”

“The thing is, I’m worried about Deva.” Mrs. Gin had warmed up to her subject and sense of doing what was right for her daughter. “And I’m not sure who to talk to about it.”

For the first time that morning, the secretary really regarded Mrs. Gin. “Oh?”

“I feel a bit silly even mentioning it, but then again it is bothering me. Though I’m sure its nothing.” She straightened the envelopes again.

“If you think something is wrong with one of our students, you probably should speak up, Mrs. Gin. Is she having problems at home? Has she said something?”

“It’s something my daughter said. You see, my daughter is worried, and if my daughter is worried, I’m worried. I can’t help it, you understand.”

“Yes?’

“You’ll think it silly.” Mrs. Gin knew that some of the staff accused her of being overprotective and overinvolved, but they didn’t understand what it was like to almost lose a child before she was even born. Children needed protectors. It wasn’t her fault if not every child had someone to stand up for them.

“No, not at all. If it’s bothering you, then you need to tell someone,” Shonda said.

“Well, it seems Deva, the poor girl, thinks she’s a witch.”

“What?”

“I know it is silly. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought maybe we should be concerned. Either she’s delusional or she’s playing a nasty trick on my child, her friend. And maybe she’s saying this to other children at school, and those kids will go home and say things to their parents, and well, you can see why I’d be worried.”

The secretary stared at her with wide eyes. “Hmm. Maybe we should talk to someone about this.”
Mrs. Gin smiled haltingly, glad someone was listening. “I only want to do what’s right.”

“Of course,” the secretary replied. “Every mother does.”

Thanks for reading.

Story-a-Day May! Half-way there. Thank the stars.

costumes at work

I ended up needing to add a new scene to my WIP, and so that’s my story for today. It’s a rough draft, and obviously some of it won’t make sense because you won’t have read the parts of the manuscript that come before this. But at least I wrote something!

It’s Halloween in 1992. The character of Deva is dressed as a witch. Linnie is a cat. Thank you for reading.

Every Halloween Lake Belle threw a party downtown. Main Street and Central Avenue were closed off, white, orange, and purple lights were strung from lampposts and trees, and most every shop and restaurant put up Halloween inspired scenes.

The used bookstore had a great Edgar Allan Poe inspired pendulum over the door and fake blood splattered over the sidewalk. The café had a small toy black cat on each sidewalk table. Two shops across from each other rigged up ropes and pulleys to swing ghosts from one side of the street to the other. The first few hours, the area would be mostly families, and as the night wore on, the celebration took on a much more adult hue.

People walked by in Homer Simpson and Batman costumes. There were boys dressed as Michael Myers and Jason and Freddie Kruger. There were mummies and vampires and werewolves and witches. Deva looked at the other witches with a strange mix of emotion. She had just blown up a gas station. She really was a witch.

A group of boy zombies whistled and moaned after the girls when they walked by, but neither Linnie nor Deva paid them any attention. They overheard a couple talking about the gas station explosion—How do you think that happened?—but they turned around and headed in another direction.

Music pumped from speakers set up in the corners of the main intersection, and the girls stood next a lamppost watching the few people willing to dance this early. Later, after most of the kids were gone and nearby bar filled up with customers, more and more adults would take to making fools of themselves to the music. A few individuals actually could dance, and the girls watched them. Usually they danced too, but the shock of the explosion held them in place.
They didn’t even talk, but Linnie looped her arm Deva’s arm, and she rested her head on her friend’s shoulder. An older woman, dressed as a witch and a basket of candy in one hand, stopped next to them. She seemed to be watching the dancers, and it took Deva a moment to realize the woman was talking to her.

“How are you girls this evening?” the woman asked.

“Fine,” they chorused.

“You enjoying Halloween?”

“It’s been eventful,” Linnie said, lifting her head and standing up straight. “How’s your Halloween?”

“Unexpected.”

Deva studied the old woman, and something about her felt familiar, but she couldn’t come up with any memory of her. “That’s a great costume,” she said. The old woman’s costume was stunning. She wore the traditional witch black and the pointy hat, but the dress flattered her figure. The dress had layers of black fabric, the outer layer being delicate lace. The sleeves draped dramatically and black ribbon encircled her waist. Polished black beads wrapped her wrists and her neck. She wore high heel black boots that laced up the back of her leg.

“Thank you, dear,” the woman said. “But it’s not a costume.”

Linnie pursed her lips together and gave her friend a look of sympathy.

“Oh, I just thought—” Deva began.

“It’s an easy mistake to make tonight, of course. I made it myself, and it’s what I asked to buried in, which I must admit, might be scary to some people.”

Deva and Linnie exchanged looks. “Well, that’s interesting,” Linnie said. “I’m glad you’re able to wear it out and about, you know, before the end.”

Deva winced and laughed slightly at the same time. “Do you make a lot of clothes? Because that’s really beautiful.”

“I have a talent for making things,” the woman said. “It runs in the family.”

“Are you from around here?” Deva asked.

The old woman shook her head. “I’m from up north, but my spirit was called down here on unfinished family business.”

“Oh.” Deva didn’t know how to respond. Something about the woman unsettled her. Deva assumed that between the explosion and Halloween, her nerves were stretched too thin. If she wasn’t careful, she’d start seeing real ghosts. “So, your family’s here then, is it?”

The old woman smiled serenely. “Yes. My daughter and my grandchildren.”

“Interesting,” Linnie said. “Usually it’s the other way round. People come to Florida to see grandparents.”

“This is most tiring,” the old woman said, “walking around like this, being seen. But I had to say hello to you, Deva.”

Deva started. “How do you know my name?”

“I know I should have seen you before it was too late.”

Deva stumbled for words. The woman had come across as eccentric, but now she was rather frightening. “I don’t know you.”

The old woman smiled. “I have neither energy nor inclination to explain. Honestly, it took so long for everything to be put into place, I can’t ruin it all by saying the wrong thing.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” asked Linnie, taking a step toward the woman.

“But when you have power,” the woman said, “ don’t be afraid to use it.”

At that a moment, a crowd of partiers walked right into them, cutting between the girls and the old woman. Their costumes, with large hats, fairy wings, or other strange parts, prevented Linnie and Deva from seeing anything around them. And when the troupe was past, the old woman was gone.

“Okay, that was weird,” Linnie said, looking around in every direction.

Deva let out a deep breath. “Who was she? How did she know my name?”

Linnie took her friend’s hand. “We know half a dozen people around here. I bet it’s part of that lady’s Halloween joke. She finds out a stranger’s name, says something freaky, and then disappears. She’s probably in the back of a shop right now having a good laugh.”

“Yeah, but considering the day we’ve had…like, what if she was my grandmother?”

“No. No. No. You’re just freaked out over the explosion. Dead people don’t walk around Lake Belle, even if it is Halloween.”

“How do we know everything that is possible?”

An En Vogue song boomed over them. Linnie, still holding her friend’s hand, stepped off the curbed and into the intersection where many costumed people were dancing. “Let’s have fun, okay?”

“Linnie,” Deva mumbled. She didn’t know what to think.

Linnie pulled Deva into the dancers, and she began to move to the beat. Her cat tail swung behind her. “Free your mind, girlfriend. And the rest will follow.”