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WIPpet Wednesday: Genie on the Doorstep

Happy Wednesday! I’m thrilled to be back. We took a trip to Cooperstown for the baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I’m back, better rested than I was on Monday. But I’m still very, very sore from the sunburn. Note to self: 5 hours is too long without reapplying sunscreen.

ROW80 Update:

Due to travel, I missed my writing goal, and I’m not sure if I’ll get to a blog post this week. We’ll see.

  • Write in Passing on Faith one hour/day: Nope. Missed Saturday and Sunday due to travel.
  • Read 30 min/day: √ Yep! Finished the book I was reading. Go, me!
  • Write one non-ROW80/WIPpet post/week: Not yet. I’ll let you know Sunday.

On to the WIPpet!

For this week, I’m sharing part of Chapter 2. Micah is surveying the horribleness of the house he inherited and wishing he didn’t have to deal with it. I tend to think he’s avoiding dealing with a lot of things at the moment. This is still fairly lighthearted, but the story itself is overall taking a somewhat more angsty turn than I expected. This is a good thing, I think, but we shall see.

My WIPpet math: (7 + 3 + 0) + (1 + 4 – 2) = 13 sentences.

Although he knew he should get to work, that was the last thing he wanted to do. He flopped down on the couch, sending a puff of dust into the air which caused him to cough. Surveying the rubble from his meltdown the day before, he curled his lip in disgust. He leaned back, groaning, and ran a hand through his hair. It would be the perfect time to discover a magic lamp in among the knickknacks. If only he could produce a genie to make everything disappear.

A knock on the door startled him out of his miserable reverie. Hauling himself up, he slumped over to the door and opened it. There stood his new neighbor, notebook and cell phone in hand. This time, Cat was dressed in a vivid orange t-shirt—how he got away with that given his hair color was anyone’s guess, but it looked surprisingly good—and a pair of well-worn jeans. His Converse were the same shade of orange as the shirt. Under the v-neck collar, a thin gold chain peeped out. He still had the same dangling leaf earring he’d been wearing before, and now Micah had a better look, he saw exactly what it was.

I’ll bet you can guess. 😉

Thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting, as always. Don’t forget to check out the other entries and add your own. Just connect it to the date (see my math above for an example) and link up with us. Happy writing!

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WIPpet Wednesday: Fix ‘Er Up

Hooray! It’s Wednesday! Time for a new WIPpet and ROW80 check-in.

My goals:

  • Write one hour/day in Passing on Faith The plot bunny still won’t leave me alone, but I used it to my advantage to work out a key plot point. So, win.
  • Read 30 minutes/day Haven’t missed any since last check-in.
  • Write one blog post/week other than WIPpet/ROW80 Yep, posted it on Monday.

I’m skipping my Sunday post because we are going to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame inductions. That’s going to derail my goals for the weekend as well. I’ll still get my reading in, but no writing and probably no extra blog post next week, since I’ll be catching up and the kids will be done with camp.

I admit I’m struggling with this novel. I’m over halfway through, and this is the point where my last one hit a bump, too. I began having it beta read in order to overcome the slump, but I’m not at that point with this one for a number of reasons. Consequently, today’s snippet is a little dull. I’m just posting what comes immediately after last week’s. Part of the problem is that I don’t want to reveal too much too soon, and some things I’m not sure about revealing at all. This damn story has too many potential spoilers!

Boring math, too: 7 + 2 + 3 = 12 paragraphs. Sigh.

Cat’s eyebrows shot up, but he didn’t ask for more information. Instead, he looked around. “This place is a dump.”

“Tell me about it,” Micah grumbled. “That’s part of the problem. It’s truly not livable. I have to go back to town and get a hotel room until I’ve cleaned out most of what’s in here.”

“You want some help?”

“With what, finding a room? I’m an adult. I think I can manage.”

Cat rolled his eyes. “No. I meant fixing this place. I’m actually pretty handy with a trash bin, and I know just about everyone in town. We’ll get your house in shape.”

Micah desperately wanted an excuse to say no. He wasn’t anxious to get acquainted with the locals, nor was he interested in being indebted to Cat for his help. On the other hand, he had no idea what he was doing. If Cat—or anyone else, for that matter—could assist him, he might be able to get the house ready by the end of summer.

He found himself saying, “All right.”

“Good.” Cat stood up. “Let me make a few calls, and I’ll tell you what I’ve got. We can at least figure out what needs to be fixed.” He cringed a little. “Um, can I have my glass back?”

Micah laughed. “Sure.” He drained the last of the lemonade and handed Cat the glass. “I’d wash it for you, but I’m not sure what would come out of the tap.”

“No problem. See you around?”

“Yeah.” Micah offered a real smile this time, and Cat returned it.

Maybe, just maybe, he could get through the summer after all.

I’ll try to find something a bit more interesting for next time. If you want to read some less dull entries than mine, go here. Feel free to add your own, associated with the date however you choose. Thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting, as always. Happy writing!

WIPpet Wednesday: Lemonade and Sympathy

Big news this week: I’m about to have a web site of my own! My amazing graphic designer finalized my banner this week, so as soon as everything’s in place, I will do the big drum roll and reveal. Stay tuned, because my web site (and its name) are a-changin’.

On the ROW80 front, I managed to meet my goals so far. (You can read other updates and join in here.) Refresher course:

  • Write in Passing on Faith for an hour a day: Also wrote a bit on a short story
  • Read a book for 30 minutes a day: I have two going now
  • Write a blog post that’s not WIP/ROW80 once a week:  Posted my review of Across Worlds: Collision, an erotic sci-fi novel

For today’s WIPpet, I’ve got another bit between Micah and Cat. In case you missed it, ages ago I posted about Micah discovering the inside of the lake house is pretty bad. He made it worse by smashing stuff his father and stepmother were packing up before Dear Ol’ Dad died. Let’s just say he’s not in a good mood. Maybe Cat will cheer him up…or make it worse. WIP math is 7 – 1 + 6 = 12 paragraphs.

Micah stood up, wiping his eyes with the heels of his hands. He sighed and yanked the sheet off an old chair. He flopped down in it and buried his head in his hands, still sniffling a little. He decided he would sit right there until he was struck with a brilliant plan for how to manage his misfortune. It might have been a whole two minutes before someone knocked on the front door. Huffing, he rose and went to answer it.

He held back a groan when he saw who it was. Cat, his oddly chipper neighbor, was back. He had a glass of what might have been lemonade in his hand and a lopsided smile on his face. When he looked up at Micah, his expression changed. His smile slid away and his eyes widened.

“You okay?” he asked.

Micah ran a hand through his hair and contemplated telling Cat it was just allergies. Instead, something made him say, “No. I am not okay. But if you want to come in and sit down on my couch, risking black lung from all the dust, by all means.” He stood aside and swept his hand, indicating Cat should join him.

Hesitantly, Cat stepped over the threshold. He extended the glass to Micah. “Thought you could use this. Maybe you need something stronger, though.”

Micah snorted. “Yeah, probably, except I don’t drink.” He accepted the lemonade and took a sip. The tart liquid was refreshingly cool against his burning throat. “Thanks for this.” He tilted the glass toward Cat.

Cat grinned. “I was a little worried for a minute there. Want to tell me about it?”

“Not really.” Micah dragged the sheet off the couch, and Cat perched on the end as though he thought it might contaminate him.

“Fair enough.” He continued to watch Micah, though.

Micah sighed heavily. “I inherited this house. My father just died.”

“I’m sorry,” Cat said, his voice soft and warm.

“I’m not.”

And I’ll just leave it there.

On a completely random note, here is a video for your amusement.

WIPpet Wednesday is hosted by the excellent K. L. Schwengel. You can read the other entries and add your own here. Just post a bit of your work-in-progress, connect it to the date any way you can, and share it with us. Happy writing!

WIPpet Wednesday: Unhelpful Thoughts

It’s that time again—another Wednesday, another week down. So far, it’s been a little challenging, balancing writing and editing with having both kids home. Next week, the kids are at camp, so that means a whole 7 hours a day to work. Good thing, because I keep having projects land in my lap. At the moment, I’m working on stuff with several other writers: three novels consistently, one inconsistently, and three fan fictions (those are also inconsistent, though).

I settled on Passing on Faith for the new title. Others seemed to like it, and I’m partial to its lovely multi-layered meaning to the story.

I thought for this week, I’d give you the bit that immediately follows last week’s snippet. I posted the beginning of this scene some time ago. In case you’ve forgotten, I’ll recap: Micah has gone to the lake house he inherited. His neighbor stopped by. Micah’s first impression was to be caught off-guard (Cat’s irritating, but he is adorable)—until he opened his mouth and Micah just wanted him to close it again.

Just for fun, my math is 9 (for the day) + 1 + 4 (for the year) = 14 sentences. Um…I could’ve just used the year, actually. But it’s more fun and convoluted this way. Which kind of describes Cat, so it fits.

Cat’s mouth twitched like he might smile; he didn’t, but his eyes twinkled. He turned around and retreated up the walkway. Micah was certain he saw Cat sway his hips flirtatiously just a little, but by the time he’d convinced himself, the moment was gone. Cat rounded the front hedges and disappeared from view.

Cute, a traitorous part of Micah’s brain supplied helpfully. He forced the rational portion of his mind to answer that thought with, No. He’s more like a damn chipmunk. Right…a sexy chipmunk. Wait. No. Not at all. That just sounds wrong. Plus, he’s too young, as well as nosy and annoying.

Micah let out a frustrated growl and unlocked the front door.

For a bit of clarification (before someone comments to that effect), when Micah says “too young,” he doesn’t mean Cat is a child or even barely legal. Micah’s a couple of years younger than I am, and Cat’s twenty-seven—about an eight- or nine-year difference. There’s nothing creepy going on, but there’s a reason Micah’s wary of the age gap that I’m not telling you yet.

WIPpet Wednesdays are hosted by K. L. Schwengel, so be sure to go see what she’s up to on her page. If you want to join us, post a bit of your current WIP, associate it somehow with the date, and add it here. Don’t forget to read the other entries and leave some love on the authors’ blogs. Happy writing!

WIPpet Wednesday: Nosy Neighbor

Happy Wednesday! Sorry I flaked out last week. I knew I didn’t have time to post or read the other entries, so I skipped it. Good thing I did—I ended up with all five of my beta-reading projects in my inbox at once! I also managed to get my second draft of my novel back to the publisher. Whew! Now that those things are done, I’m back to working on my new-ish story (the Puss in Boots one). Or, rather, I’m staring at the screen and wishing the words would magically appear.

I’m renaming this novel. The working title was A Worthy Inheritance, which is cheesy and doesn’t fit the tone of the story. But I had to name my file something. So now I’m deciding between Passing on Faith and A Passable Faith. The reason behind both is the double meaning, which is very important to the story. If you have a preference, let me know in the comments.

When we last left Micah, he had just met his neighbor—the mightily irritating Cat. We join them again, still on Micah’s front porch. My math is pathetic today: 7 + 2 + 2 (from 2014) = 11 short paragraphs.

Micah hesitated He scrubbed the side of his face, trying to think of an explanation; he felt tired and far older than his years. After a minute or two he said, “I inherited this house, and I haven’t been here in—” he calculated quickly in his head “—twenty-two years. I’m pretty sure no one else has been here in at least the last few.”

Cat nearly choked. “What? That’s crazy! Well, now that you’re here, I’ll show you around. You’ll like Debbie, she’s great. And Angie and Mark, in the house at the end of the lane, and—”

Micah cut him off. “I’m really only here to fix this house and sell it,” he said, trying to make it clear the conversation was over. “I don’t plan to live here.”

“Oh. Okay, then.” Cat almost sounded disappointed. “How long will you be staying?”

“Just for a couple months. I have a job to get back to.” Micah turned toward the door.

“Really? What kind of job?”

Micah ground his teeth together to keep from swearing at Cat. He lowered the hand holding his key and glanced over his shoulder. “I’m a teacher.”

“Ooh!” Cat’s face lit up. “Yeah? What do you teach?”

After taking a deep, calming breath, Micah replied, “Fifth grade. Look, I really don’t want to talk right now. I need to get inside and see what state the house is in.”

“Got it. Well, I’ll leave you to it, then. See you around?”

Micah shrugged, relieved to be nearly rid of Cat and his incessant questions. “Probably.” Under his breath, he muttered, “I’ll be here all damn summer long.”

Yeahhhhh. Is it wrong for me to be glad he’s not my neighbor?

All the thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting. Link up with us here, and don’t forget to enjoy 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.

Faithless Heart

This story was written for the Creative Buzz Hop hosted by Tamara Woods and Michelle Liew.  If you want to participate, go to either of their sites and link up.  This is my first time participating, but I think it’s a fantastic idea!  Technically, we’re supposed to tag people, but I’m not sure who to tag.  If you want to be part of things, you can leave me a comment and I’ll tag you in the future.

This weeks’ theme is infidelity.

All she had was a name.

Ava had seen him in the coffee shop as she stopped to peer in the window on her way past. She was never sure later just what made her do it. She pushed open the heavy glass door and stepped into the coffee-scented warmth.

It was dim and crowded, and Ava wriggled her way to a corner where she wouldn’t be pressed on all sides by people dressed in black with their painted nails and their painted skin and their painted bags. They weren’t her sort of people; they were nothing like her, at least on the outside. She was pretty sure that if she talked to any of them she would find they weren’t like her on the inside, either.

Ava should have been at home, the way she had been every night for as long as she could remember. She should have been watching the news or eating an organic-whole-grain-no-sugar-added snack or reading the Amish romance that she sneaked off her grandmother’s book shelf last week. She should have been wearing pink bunny slippers and cuddling under her handmade blanket with her cat tucked up on her lap.

Instead, she was infusing herself with caffeine and tugging idly at her blouse to make sure nothing was showing like those women who baptized themselves with scent and glitter. Ava knew better than to invite whispers and stares; she was good at blending in when she wasn’t at trendy coffee shops after ten at night.

She watched him play for a while. He was singing a song about being free and knowing your truth. She liked the tune, even if she wanted to argue back. Wiry guitarists in ripped jeans and black nail polish could only make guesses, while women like Ava knew all about being set free by the truth, even if there was never anything to be set free from.

Ava waited for him to finish his set. When he looked out on the now-thinning crowd, their eyes met for a moment, and Ava felt her carefully arranged stones start to slide of the stack. It wouldn’t hurt anyone, she reasoned, to play the part while she was here. She let her lips form a smile meant only for him, and he flashed an answering grin in her direction. He made a promise with his eyes, and Ava accepted it.

He asked, and she answered, and they escaped into the night where they leaned against the bricks behind the shop and he kissed and kissed her until she thought she might float away into the stars. She wanted more—more of everything she wasn’t allowed to want any other time except when she was sneaking out of the house to listen to soulful young musicians pouring their almost-passions into the microphone.

When she begged, he said there wasn’t anything else to give her and that she was expecting too much from him, even though he was the one who said he wanted to open the cage and let her fly. In her confusion, Ava asked about freedom and truth and the songs he sang, but he only laughed and said there was so much she didn’t understand. No one’s really free, he told her, but some people have learned how to be not-free in a different way—they’ve learned to say the same things only with prettier words, and it makes them feel better. That was all he did with his songs.

He kissed her again, and she invested everything she had in that moment. She gave her mouth over to his lips and tongue and teeth; she pressed into him, willing him to take whatever she offered. He pulled back, saying it was time to go. Instead of Cinderella, the Prince was the one hurrying down the stairs at midnight. He disappeared, swallowed up by the dark streets and the nighttime sounds.

Ava ran, hoping to catch him and make him mend the gaping chasm he’d left where all her Saturdays of safety and comfort used to reside. She chased after him, needing at least to know who he was. She lost track of time, so great was her need.

When she stepped out of an alley to cross the main road, she stopped to let a bus pass by. Looking up, she saw him in the window, his palm pressed against the glass. He had written his name on his hand, and she read it as he passed her. In thick, black lines he’d written “Jace.” She said it aloud so she would remember, and then she laughed because it was so stupid and cliched and maybe a little bit ironic. She tracked the bus with her eyes until it was out of sight then sank down on the pavement in exhaustion, where she buried her head in her hands and cried.

In the morning, Ava dressed for church. She rode in silence, a Sunday morning penitence for her Saturday night sin. Yes, she was the sinful woman, the one who had strayed for the price of a single night of freedom. He had been right, she thought, that no one could ever really be free. She remembered a story she’d heard once, about how some researchers had put children in a fenced playground and they used the whole space, but when the fence was gone, they stayed in the middle. She’d tried to play without a fence and had almost run into the road; now she was ready to lock the gate again. That’s what good girls do when they’re twenty-six and have spent all their lives doing everything right, only to shatter it all for just a glimpse of some other life.

When church was over, she stood up and walked solemnly out of the sanctuary to the big room where they served coffee and, if everyone was lucky, donut holes. She glanced around the room, and her gaze rested on someone who didn’t belong there. Her adulterous heart beat faster, and she imagined running away with him to wherever it was that she wouldn’t have to wear calf-length skirts and crew-neck sweaters and listen to women her mother’s age chastise her with, “What’s gotten into you lately, Ava?”

Ava turned away; she needed to guard her heart. She ran for the door, a few steps from safety, but he caught up to her and called for her. She stood still. He crossed in front of her, and she cast her eyes downward, not daring to look at him.

“I was wrong,” he said. “About no one being free.”

He took her hand and tugged gently, leading her outside. She looked back at the building, a tower of strength built to the Lord, and she thought she understood. She closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, he was watching her expectantly.

“I’m ready,” she whispered.

©June 21, 2013 ABMitchell