Sunday, 27 July 2014

Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie? Diva and Jane and whoever else?

Hi friends.

Well, if you know me well, you know that I don't go out looking for trouble that often (unless the brand of trouble is a good-looking man with soccer player legs; in that case, when I was single, I constantly looked for trouble!). But seriously, folks, it's been a defense mechanism all through life to downplay the drama... and then I decided to write a book.

My fellow critiquers and I laugh about it by now. I've worked with them for almost 8 months and they all know I'm not the conflict writer. Other people write fight scenes with stuff blowing up and all kinds of crazy actions that people take, and I'd rather write about people partying at the beach because that's fun.

THIS is my conflict as a writer: I don't easily write about conflict.

Soooo, with my deadline less than 2 weeks away, this is my challenge. I have to add in situations and sometimes people to scenes that I thought were done- at least for now. I wonder if it'll add interest and keep the readers engaged or if it'll seem like I'm trying to add Poochie to an Itchy and Scratchy episode. Anyway, here are a few gems I plan to sprinkle throughout the story:

  • Gritty male coworker who won't stop scratching his crotch. Since he is tall, it's right in Jane's view when she's sitting at her desk. Based on an actual person who rode his bike to work and then itched all day, presumably from the sweat. When he left (or rather was escorted away from) work, I was attacked by sand gnats a few days later in my nearby cubicle. Apparently they missed their original host. 
  • Mechanics who want to sell Jane a new transmission when her car only has 70k miles on it. Based on real mechanics who tried to sell the writer of this story a new clutch when her car had only 70k miles on it.
  • The master planned community where Jane's townhouse is located has a sinkhole that swallows part of the road. The builder and the city of Winterville fight over who's going to fix it for 8 months. All the while, a gaping hole remains. Jane wants to do a short sale but she has to wait until those 2 entities fight it out in court because what kind of homebuyer would want to live there with a giant hole in the ground? Inspired by true events.
What do you think? Is this enough conflict for you? I have a lot of work to do. 

Jane and her author

Friday, 25 July 2014

Bad Behavior after the Trip to the Bar...

Hi friends! Happy Friday!
Here is a scene I've worked on from early on in the book, when I'm attempting to socialize with my train-wrecky neighbor J.T. at the Steak and Shake after happy hour. I hope you find it as amusing as I do! Omigosh, some people are soooo stupid!
“I have so much more potential than this,” he said. “I don’t know what I’m doing here.”
“It’s a recession, J.T. You’re stuck. Just like everyone else.”
“Speak for yourself,” he muttered.
Our food arrived and we ate in silence. I ate my bowl of chili and smiled to myself about how that might break the bank.
J.T. persisted in his dark mood. He continued to stare at the yokel as we left the booth, and just as I found myself regretting my choice to be the designated driver (and too nice to ditch him earlier), I saw something interesting after we paid the bill and started walking toward the car. He had taken off his belt and was winding it around his hand. The yokel with the snake tattoo appeared in the parking lot to stare him down some more, and they started doing some sort of pre-fight ritual that involved watching each other and walking slowly in a big circle.
Of all the times in my life I’ve been too nice and put up with bad behavior, I thought, it really should end now. What was going to happen? Some bloody parking lot fight, or police activity? I’d managed to stay out of trouble in Winterville by flying under the radar, but being associated with J.T. would definitely put me in the spotlight with local law enforcement and who knew what else.
Plus, I thought, This guy is an idiot.
I crept quietly to my car and pressed the button on my keychain to unlock it. The parking lights flashed, but the two men took little notice. I sat down in the driver’s seat, turned on the ignition, and quickly put it into reverse. 
            J.T. looked at me in a panic as if to say, Wait. I hit the power lock button and started driving.  

Saturday, 19 July 2014

It's the Birthday Friend Purge Spectacular!


In addition to my usual excerpt, I'm also adding a post to let you know what's going on in my life as Jane's esteemed author.

It's my birthday! Not to be mixed up with Jane's birthday, which is the anniversary of the dream and coincidentally also Shakespeare's birthday. No, Jane's esteemed author was born today, some years ago.

I had the dubious honor of deleting someone off of Facebook today. This person made a snarky and rotten remark to me in the tone of someone who was contemptuously talking down to me, and I just wasn't having it. So- good riddance to bad rubbish. It's not the first Facebook pruning and I'm sure it won't be the last. Sometimes I tolerate people I probably shouldn't, but in the long run, I have to be true to myself and keep around me the kind of people I truly like, whether it's in real life or online.

This isn't the first time this has happened. I knew a very mean woman in college named Rebecca who acted like she was my friend to my face and said terrible things about me behind my back. I had a feeling in my gut that this was so, but didn't act on it until I had hard evidence years later. How I wish I'd listened to my gut all those years before and faced up to the situation, but it was better late than never. I decided when I turned 30 that she and another person (see blog post from last year here) were out of my life for good...

I always seem to get a lift around my birthday. It's as if I'm taking inventory and deciding what gets to follow me into the next year of life. Anyway, cheers, my friends. Thanks for tuning in, and best wishes for you in the week ahead.

Jane's esteemed author

P.S. from Jane: OK, we have to stop hopping around now. My esteemed author is valiantly trying to get the end of the book written (properly- the bare bones are in place) for her big peer review next month and besides, we can't give out all our secrets! Some of this ending has to be a surprise, and let me tell you, some of this stuff is nutty! So, what we'll post from now on will be rewritten sections that have been peer reviewed and re-worked. I hope that works for you all too. 

Much love,

In this next scene, I am celebrating the demise of my temporary employer, a mortgage company that was closed down by the Federal Reserve!

   I logged in to my computer and turned on my phone just to make sure I’d heard that news bulletin correctly. I had six text messages already, which wasn’t bad for a woman in Winterville with one friend:
   Text 1, from office manager: DO NOT report to work. TB&J is closed until further notice. HR will mail final paychecks to employee’s addresses on record. DO NOT reply to this message.
   Texts 2-6, from Patti:
Are you up? Did you see the news?
No more work at TBJ! Call me when you get this!
Landlord is letting me out of my lease early. Starting to pack already. Want to help me pack? I’ll buy you lunch!
Call me! I need to talk about this!
   I replied to Patti’s texts with my own:
This is the best Monday morning ever! I’ll come to your apartment after I get some more sleep, but only if you promise that Jenny won’t be there too.  Lucky you, moving away and getting engaged! Take me with you!
   Patti texted back:
Why the hell would Jenny come over? And why would I invite her? She doesn’t work, she shops! See you soon.
   I showed up at Patti’s apartment around 10:30 a.m., wearing a t-shirt, a pair of overalls, and some sneakers. Patti’s hair was up as usual, but in a ponytail instead of her usual updo. It was the first time I’d seen her in casual clothes and sneakers, although she still looked like she’d walked straight out of an Old Navy summer shorts commercial.
   We collected boxes from a nearby liquor store, bought more boxes and packing material, and worked as long as the caffeine in our lunch drinks allowed. 
   “Thanks for keeping me company for all of this, and helping out,” Patti said as we sat in her living room, surrounded by boxes, after we’d run out of steam. “It’s good to have someone familiar around with all the changes coming up.”
   “You’re welcome. I am glad to do it, because I know someday it will be me who’s leaving, so it’s almost like rehearsal, you know? Getting ready for the real thing.”
   “It probably sounds cliché, but change really can sneak up on you.  Even if you’re not ready for it, you have to deal with it.”
   “Do you need a drink, Patti?” I asked, half-joking.
   “No, but I am just a tad bit nervous about all of my life changing so quickly. Well, maybe I do need a drink,” she confessed.
   “I could use one too. You don’t want to pack that mostly-empty bottle of rum, do you?”
   “Heck no, bring it over here. There’s got to be something to mix it with in the fridge.”
   Once our drinks were prepared, she began a small speech.
   “To drinking buddies near and far. May we remember each other whenever we raise a glass for the next toast, and the one after that,” Patti said.
   “To being prideful,” I added. “We should look that up.”
   We clinked glasses and sipped our rum and seltzer water drinks. Then, she fumbled around on her smartphone and eventually found a website with that information.
   “It means being arrogantly superior and disdainful of others who you think are unworthy. And also, people around here use the word whenever they’re jealous of anyone else’s success.”

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Dream Date with Darren, continued...

Hi friends! Today's blog is brief and late, although with the supermoon this weekend I was able to not only go to writing class and work on editing someone else's book but actually finish (the first draft of) THIS book! It's a good thing for my sake that we only get full moons once per month. So please excuse the delay, and enjoy your Sunday.
   “So did you ever take my advice?” he asked as we walked toward the surf.
   “What advice?” I pulled my hat down onto my head as the wind threatened to take it away.
   “To watch Mystery Science Theatre 3000. That’s some serious entertainment.”
   “Oh yes. One of my friends has Netflix on her TV and I saw it there. How I got through the 1990s without it, I don’t know.”
   He smiled. “Well, I had to bring up something after you mentioned Monty Python.”
   “That’s the first time I’ve ever mentioned Monty Python on a first date.”
   “So that’s why you’re single,” he joked. “If you’d have mentioned it sooner, someone would have snapped you up years ago.” I laughed.
   “Why are you single, Darren? I mean, you are still single, right?”
   “Yes, I told you that already. It’s just so hard to find a person you like enough to date, you know? South Florida is nice, but it’s not much of a place to date, unless you want to date a poodle.”
    “High-maintenance woman, you mean?”
    “Exactly. See, Jane, you’re more of a Jack Russell terrier. Less fancy and a lot more fun.”
    “Are you calling me a dog?” I taunted. He smirked.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Beach Rendezvous Time!

Hi friends!
Now, we are getting to the sparse part of the book, where I haven't written most of it yet! I do have a deadline of August 8 for review within my writing group, so it should get "finished" by then. In the meantime, enjoy this scene between Jane and Darren!
Yours truly,
The woman who's writing Jane's story
Dear friends:
Thank you for tuning in! Without your support, the lady who's writing my story might not be so motivated. Please keep tuning in!
P.S. This scene is at the beach, where I've gone to a rendezvous with a certain man....
   The next text I sent Diva and Sal read:
I had my hair done and then I came to the beach. Remember how windy it is at the beach? What was I thinking?
   I hoped my black scarf would come in handy this time as much as it did on the Key West Express.
   I took off walking to the south and watched the frothy surf race up and down the seashore. The salt water splashed onto my feet and legs while I wondered what was going to happen next. Would he look the same as before? Was he kind? Was he as sane and employed and quote-unquote normal as he seemed?
   What had prompted him to get in touch, anyway? Maybe it was the same thing that happened with Patti and Andy. Here we were, two people in Florida in our mid-to-late-thirties, looking for people to date and having all these odd encounters. Had his foray into dating after our Key West date been as lackluster as mine?
   My mind wandered for a few minutes, until I realized that my shorts were wrinkled from the long drive, my hair was tangled despite my best efforts and trusty black scarf, and I’d forgotten to apply sunscreen. Planning to return to the room, change, and primp, I turned around and walked a while until I heard the sound of my name above the pounding surf.
   He stood in front of the volleyball courts, equidistant between the hotel and the water. My stomach lurched, but I smiled and walked toward him anyway.
   “Darren! Good to see you,” I yelled over the sound of the wind and the surf.
   “Hey, Jane,” he said, holding his arms out to me and then folding me into a hug.
   “You’re looking well,” I said as he guided me back into the hotel.
   “Thanks, you too. You know,” he said, smiling sideways at me in the elevator, “I couldn’t remember what color your hair was, and honestly I still can’t. Do you always wear that thing on your head?”

Friday, 4 July 2014

Oopsie, I dropped something...

Hi friends! According to my blog stats, ALL of my current readers are American, and so, my fellow Americans, happy 4th of July! Whee! Land of the free and home of the brave...
This weekend's blog post comes courtesy of my fictional roommate Sal and me philosophizing and such. I hope you enjoy it.
Have a great weekend!
   Sal continued to work at the magazine and look for something, anything, elsewhere. She had a few phone interviews and a few meetings by Skype. Few things had gone past the first stages, and some positions that she interviewed for were actually not filled due to other organizational needs.
   I was grateful for her company in the townhouse, even though at times we degenerated into people who grunted instead of talked to one another.
   “I feel like we’re Golden Girls, only way younger,” I confided.
   “Exactly! We should be all Sex and the City, and yet we’re No Sex in the Country. What is up with that?”
   “You should write about it on your blog,” I joked.
   “That blog!” she exclaimed. “I don’t know what else to do with that blog. I’ve finally started writing tips and recipes for dinner parties. I have given up! Recipes! That’s like waving the white flag!”
   We laughed.
   “I didn’t know you’d run out of ideas. And yet, I see you every weekend, all weekend, here in your sweats. I’m sorry, I should have figured it out sooner.”
   “My life had a lot more sparkle before. I worry that I’ll never get it back.”
   “I do, too,” I told her. “I worry that I’ll forget how to have a conversation sometimes. I went so long without it. Will I be able to move on and be successful somewhere else? I’ve been here so long that I don’t know. I haven’t had the chance to try for something I wanted in so long that I wonder if I’ll be able to. Will I come across as even vaguely competent? And it seems like that would be the case, right? That I’d be paralyzed with fear once my time here had a chance of coming to an end.”
   “Wow,” said Sal. “Thanks for giving me something else to worry about, Jane.”
   “Sorry,” I said, laughing. “And you shouldn’t feel nervous. You interview for stuff all the time. You’re actually going for it. I haven’t even found the energy to get as far as you are with your search.”
    “You’ll get there. One thing at a time, right?”
    “Who wants a drink?” I asked. “We have rum and…” I searched the refrigerator, “ginger ale.”
   “Yes please.”
    I poured the two drinks and mixed them with a butter knife, which I threw into the sink full of dishes that were soaking. As I handed her a drink, my cell phone rang.
   “I bet it’s Diva,” I said as I reached for my phone, which slipped out of my hand and into the dish water. “Oooh, crap!”
    “Was that your phone?” Sal asked. “So sorry,” she said, as she stifled a laugh. “That phone was ancient, though. Is it ruined? You can get a better one now!”
   “Yeah, yeah,” I said. “I guess I’ll need to now.” The phone’s internal light sputtered and then died. Although I wiped it off several times, water continued to leak from the inside.
   “I can help you pick one out!” Sal said. She loved to shop, in any case.
   “For now, can you text Diva and tell her that I’ll call her when I can?”
    “Sure. So, did you know that you can check email and have internet on your phone even when you’re at places like work where you’re not allowed to look at that stuff on your computer? It opens up a whole new world. You can respond to people quicker and it’s easier to keep up with your job search. Trust me. I couldn’t live without mine. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.”
   “OK, OK, I hear you. I’ll get a smarter phone this time.”
   We spent the rest of the night shopping online until I put through an order for a replacement. Sal, who loved to shop, was more than glad to help.
   I also put up an announcement on Facebook: My phone just took a swim, so if you need me in the next few days, just leave a message here!