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WIPpet Wednesday: Unnecessary Step

Why, hello there, Wednesday! You sure crept up on me.

Today, my son’s school is having a fundraising event for cancer. His jazz band is playing again, so a bit later I’m off to his school to hear them.

This week’s WIPpet is from a scene that gave me a lot of trouble. It felt dry, so one of my betas suggesting adding heat to the argument. I struggle to write good fictional fights—it’s why I write love stories and not action! My beta was right, though, so I added a lot more tension.

When I changed the scene, I realized that I had an angsty teenager on my hands who was likely to say some things for the purpose of being as hurtful as possible. I’ve been back and forth on this one, and I’ve changed it more than once. I sensed it would be true to his character to use a particularly awful homophobic slur. However, I felt that it would be inappropriate and offensive for me to actually write it, for a number of reasons. So I didn’t; I implied. Today’s bit is the rest of that argument.

The title of the post is what my kids say whenever someone has taken things too far. Simple math: today’s the 18th, so 1 + 8 = 9 dialog paragraphs.

The blood drained from Alex’s face; he put up a hand. “Don’t you dare ever call me that again.”

Michael made an irritated sound in his throat. “I’m done listening to anything you have to say.”

“Was there a time when you did?” Alex snapped. He wanted to take the words back the moment they left his mouth.

Michael’s expression darkened. “Screw you,” he spat.

“Your mom wouldn’t be too happy if she heard you say that to me.”

“You know what? I don’t care. I don’t need you to tell me what to do, and neither does Mom.” He pushed away from the wall and stepped close to Alex. “Don’t you get it? We don’t need you.”

Alex stared at him, his mouth open, trying to find words. “I—”

Michael huffed and rolled his eyes. “I’m going to wait outside.” He turned around and stalked off.

“You’re still wearing your tap shoes!” Alex called after him; Michael gave him the finger.

Be sure to go here and read the other entries. You can add your own if you like—just post a bit of your WIP, connect it to the date by whatever tangled means necessary, and enter the link in the collection. Thanks again to K. L. Schwengel for hosting!

WIPpet Wednesday: Just Doing My Job

I usually throw my post together Tuesday and schedule it for Wednesday morning, but I didn’t have time yesterday because my son had his last (*sniff*) concert of elementary school. Here’s a video of him performing a song he wrote himself, with a little help from his teacher tweaking it. (Apparently, they changed some of the ti’s to la’s to fit typical folk song melody patterns.)

It’s hard to hear, but this is the transcript of the talking at the beginning:

J: My great aunt and my uncle host a big party where a whole bunch of people get together. And every night there’s a giant bonfire, and the adults sing and hang out. The festival is called Swampstock, and um…

Teacher: Where’s it happen, J?

J: West Virginia.

Teacher: So, what’s the name of your piece?

J: The Treetops of West Virginia.

Teacher: For?

J: Swampstock.

Teacher: All right. I like to think of this as the next great American folk song.

To take my mind off how very sad I am (*sniff*) that my boy is “graduating” in two weeks, here is today’s WIP. This is another one of the added scenes from Alex’s POV. In this one, he and Phin are with Dani’s kids so she can go make things right with Vic. What starts off as a board game and goofing around ends with something different.

WIP math: 11 short paragraphs for the 11th.

Phin shifted and rolled onto his side, propping himself on one elbow. Alex shivered at the loss of contact and turned over to face him.

“You really do like them, don’t you?” he asked, tipping his chin toward Carlie and Jake.

Phin reached out for a moment, his hand hovering, and Alex thought he might touch him. He stiffened, but Phin merely placed his hand on the carpet between them. “I really do,” he replied.

Alex nodded. Very quietly, he said, “Why are you here?”

“Helping you out with the kids like I said I would.”

“But why? You have no obligation to fulfill.” Alex moved a little closer.

Phin drew his eyebrows together. “You promised to make me understand. I’m trying.” He leaned in as well.

Alex swallowed. His head felt thick and his pulse jumped. “I—” he started.

“It’s part of my job,” Phin interrupted.

Sighing, Alex shifted away slightly. His mind began to clear. “Your job. Right.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Like all your other jobs. Are you actually here to help us? Is that what you think this is?”

There was a long pause. Phin curled his fingers and dug them into the carpet. “I always believe it is,” he answered. Sadness flickered in his eyes, but the moment passed as quickly as it had come.

And there you have it. Thanks to Her Royal Awesomeness K. L. Schwengel for hosting us. Don’t forget to post your WIP, connected to the date, and link up here. Happy writing!

WIPpet Wednesday: Something Fishy

Another Wednesday, another week down. We survived the Ultimate Recital Challenge over the weekend (band competition, dress rehearsal, dance recital). My son’s jazz band won first place in their division, second place overall, and division awards for best brass/woodwinds. The dance recital was fantastic, and the kids all did a great job. You can read all about it (and see pictures and video!) here. Now all we’ve got left are one dress rehearsal, one recital, two concerts, and a graduation before school ends. At least they’re not all crammed into one weekend.

I’m finally doing some actual writing rather than editing. I think I already mentioned this, but I’m adding several scenes from Alex’s POV. That’s been fun but challenging, because I’ve only ever seen him from Dani or Phin’s perspectives.

In order to write this scene, I put out a question on Facebook asking what Alex might be drinking if he’s mostly just in the mood to forget his crappy day. For the very curious, he’s drinking scotch, which was the suggestion of several friends based on the details I shared about his personality. The best part was how this resulted in three days’ worth of ongoing discussion. My friends apparently really like alcohol!

WIP math: 15 sentences (6 + 4 + 1 + 4) from a new scene in chapter 5.

“This is completely screwed up,” he told the fish. “Dani thinks I can get inside his head. Hell, I can’t even get inside my own head most days.” He sighed and ran a hand over his face. “And now I’m talking to my fish. I can’t decide if I’ve had too much booze or not enough. Think I’ll go with the latter.” He picked up the glass and sipped more slowly this time. He snorted at the fish tank. “You guys are lousy company. I need a dog.”

He set the glass back on the table and stared at it, his head buzzing. Damn, he thought. I have to work in the morning. He shrugged and poured another shot.

As always, thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting. Why not post a bit of your own WIP and link up with us here? I promise we don’t bite…usually.

WIPpet Wednesday: Heating It Up

Woo hoo, it’s Wednesday again! I’ve recovered from my weeks of on-and-off illness (I hope), but now I’m in the thick of mass chauffeuring. Two kids + concerts, recitals, and awards ceremonies? Bring it on.

I’m also still immersed in editing Lower Education. I’m almost done with my first pass-through, and I have 2 added scenes (of 5). I’ll finish the last 3, which are partly done, and then do another sweep of the whole shebang.

Since I’m not doing anything new, I’m back to sharing bits of Lower Education. Ages ago, I polled readers for what they wanted me to post as my last (ha, ha) entry from this work, and everyone wanted to see poor Phin drunk. I thought I’d reward him for suffering through that humiliation and for letting me be a little mean to him in his interview last week. This is also a reward for those who requested a steamy scene. ♥

My WIP math is boring: It’s the 28th, so 2 + 8 = 10 for 10 short sentences.

Phin leaned down along Alex’s back. “Tell me,” he breathed. “Tell me what you want.”

Alex twisted around a little and they locked eyes. “No,” he answered.

Sucking in his breath, Phin pushed himself up a little. “Please,” he begged. “Let me make you feel good.”

“No,” Alex repeated. “Make us feel good.”

Many thanks to K. L. Schwengel for keeping us all in line. Add your own post here, and be sure to read the other entries. Happy WIP’ing!

WIPpet Wednesday: Back to the Drawing Board

It’s finally spring here! We had a thunderstorm last night, but it’s been otherwise warm and sunny for several days now.

I wasn’t going to post today, since I’ve put poor Micah and Cat in limbo for the time being. I’m back to working on Lower Education, doing a whole lot of editing/cutting/adding. I’ve been asked to add some scenes from Alex’s POV, which is fun. I hadn’t written as him before. Turns out, he’s kind of anal and uptight. I had written this whole scene in which Phin messes with Alex’s filing system (by taking a binder off a shelf; the horror!). At dinner last night, my husband made a comment about “binders full of [something]” (without knowing what I’d written), and I nearly lost it. I now feel the need to bring the binders back in a future scene.

Anyway, I decided that since I finished the first new scene, I’d share a little of it here. It’s not beta’d, obviously. I’m going to write all the new scenes before I have them beta-read. My WIP math for the day is 5 + 14 (5/14) for 19 sentences.

Phin ran his finger down the spine of one of the binders and then pulled it off the shelf. “Right, but you’re the resident expert. Teachers can only tell me how they refer their students, not what happens afterward between you and the district.” He opened the binder.

“Give me that.” Alex snatched the binder back, snapped it shut, and replaced it on the shelf with a huff. “Look. If you want to see them, just ask. I don’t keep student information in there—that’s all in the locked files in the main office. You could probably have permission to read some of the IEPs, as long as you use copies where identifiers are eliminated.”

“I see. I’ll have to check on that, then.” Phin inspected the rest of the shelf, examining the books and the color-coded bins. “You are impressively organized,” he remarked, pulling one of the bins down to peer inside.

Alex gritted his teeth. “Stop messing with my filing system, please.”

“Sorry. Just looking.” Pushing the bin back and turning around, Phin smirked.

“Why are you really here?”

Phin held out his hands. “I told you. I want your expert opinion.”

I’m sure Alex will get around to giving his…er…”expert opinion” on something.

Since I’ve successfully avoided K. L. Schwengel‘s flying monkeys by not skipping out on today’s post, many thanks to her for hosting. If you want to join in, share a bit of your own WIP, connected to the date, and link up with us here. Happy Wednesday!

WIPpet Wednesday: Guess Who?

Why, hello there, Wednesday! You sure crept up fast. The last week has been a blur. This is our busy time of year, so most of my energy goes to remembering who needs to be where on what days so we don’t miss any dress rehearsals or performances. I’ll be lucky if I remember my own name come mid-June.

Meanwhile, I’m back to editing Lower Education (I think the title is sticking, at least for now). I have several significant changes to make, none of which really impact the plot but all of which will make it by far a better story. I’m not quite ready to talk about why I’ve reverted to an older story, but I’ll fill everyone in on the details when I can. That means I won’t have as much time to devote to Cat and Micah. Not because I don’t have time but because I need to go back to being in Phin’s head for a bit, which makes it harder to write other perspectives.

Anyway, in honor of that, I thought you might enjoy this tasty tidbit. I’m backtracking a little; this takes place before Micah arrives at the lake house. It may or may not stay in the story, but when I wrote it, I couldn’t resist throwing it in there. My math is non-existent; you get 5 sentences for the 5th month because I had to make this fit somehow.

It didn’t help that the final days of the school year were marred by visits from the good folks at District Office and some consultant the school had hired to “fix” their academic slump before it became a serious problem. The entire fifth grade team was hauled into a meeting to listen to the consultant rattle off a string of suggestions for improvement. Micah noted that the man they’d hired was reasonably attractive—and had a nice ass—which meant he could look like he was paying rapt attention if the meeting was dull. As it turned out, the consultant was competent and his improvement plan was not only interesting but manageable. On the down side, he had clearly caught Micah looking because on his way out, he gave Micah a sly look and half a smirk.

Someone obviously still thinks pretty highly of himself.

As always, thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting. Link up with us here, and be sure to read and comment on the other entries. Happy writing!

WIPpet Wednesday: An Introduction

It’s hard to believe it’s the end of April.  It’s the season of concerts and recitals, which means May and June are going to be incredibly busy.  I’m already done with my concerts, but both the kids have upcoming gigs.  I’m looking forward to it; both of them are so proud of all the hard work they put in—as they should be!

Last night, I was on Twitter for a weekly chat I participate in with a bunch of other lovely writers.  I realized that although I’ve shared the WIPpet linky with them, I’ve never told you all about the Twitter chat!  If you want to join in, it’s Tuesdays at  9pm eastern, using the hashtag #writestuff.

Now for this week’s WIPpet.  This scene is immediately—as in, the very next sentence—after last week’s.  It’s not terribly important or interesting, other than the fact that I promised you all would know what fairy tale inspired the story.  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can refresh your memory with the other WIPpets from this story.  As you may recall, it’s the story of a youngest brother who inherits something worse than nothing when his dad dies.  And now along comes…this guy, who, judging by last week’s responses, may or may not be hot, depending on who you ask.  (Don’t ask Micah; he’s not ready to answer yet.)

My WIP math was just adding all the numbers together, so here are 14 sentences.

Micah made only a half-hearted attempt to return the smile. He reminded himself he didn’t want to get to know the neighbors—he was just there to fix up the property and sell it. People would only complicate that process.

“Uh, hi,” Micah said. He tried to think of something to tell the young man to get him to go away.

“I’m Cat Rowland. I live next door.” He extended his hand.

Reluctantly, Micah accepted it. “Micah Forbes.” He frowned in confusion. Before he could stop himself, he said, “Your name is really Cat?”

Cat laughed. “Sort of. My baby sister couldn’t say my name, so she called me Cat—no idea why. My mother always joked that I had nine lives, so it stuck.”

There you have it.  First one to figure it out gets…um…the satisfaction of posting the answer first?

Actually, aside from the fairy-tale inspiration, I also pulled a little from one of my favorite children’s authors (despite this not being at all a kids’ story)—Dianna Wynn Jones.  I recently read Charmed Life to my kids, and the main character’s nickname is Cat.  I promise, my character is not a grown-up version of Eric Chant, but I’ve always liked that he was called that, so I borrowed the name.  My Cat’s role in this story starts out as a rough parallel to his fairytale counterpart.

As usual, thanks and heart-shaped chocolates to K. L. Schwengel for hosting us.  Post some of your own work-in-progress, related to the date however you can make that happen, and link up with us here.  Don’t forget to read the other entries.  Happy writing!