Friday, November 25, 2011

Red Writing Hood: Soundtrack

This week at Write on Edge, we were challenged to imagine our novel being made into a movie and to envision the song that would be playing during a pivotal scene of the movie. So here is a little snippet from my NaNoWriMo work in progress along with U2’s song “Walk On”. This scene would follow a piece I published  on the blog in June. You can read it here.

An Excerpt from Lost and Found
Michaela came to the door wearing pajama pants and a tank top with no bra. Her pony tail was coming undone. She looked sleepy and vulnerable.   
“Adam,” she said. “I’m sorry. I was such a jerk yesterday.”
            “You were?”
            “I was. I tried to call you after I cooled off but you didn’t answer. Then Brian got sick at school and Paige was sick by the time she got home as well. That’s why I look like this. It was coming out of both ends all night. I’m sorry. That’s gross. Too much information. They’re still sleeping. They never sleep this late.  Anyway, I’m sorry. You were just doing something nice for me and I was a bitch.”
            She finally took a breath.
            “I brought you coffee.”
            “God bless you Adam,” she said with a laugh.
            “Can I come in?”
            “Of course.”
            The house smelled like disinfectant and there were dishes piled in the sink. Empty Gatorade containers and saltine crumbs littered the kitchen table
            “I need to apologize too,” I said.
            “No you don’t. You were just being nice.”
            “I’m not apologizing for mowing the lawn. I’m apologizing for overreacting and storming off. I wrecked my last relationship by buying things for my girlfriend instead of showing her I cared. I vowed I wouldn’t make same mistake again. So after the other night I wanted to do something for you to show you how I felt. Then it didn’t go the way I planned and I didn’t handle it well. I’m sorry for that.”  
            “Adam,” she said. “Peter was my first love. He was my best friend. I didn’t know how to be a parent without him. I thought I wouldn’t survive his death. It took me a year to just begin to function like a normal person. Being in a relationship with someone new never crossed my mind. And now I think about you at random times of the day and it distracts me from everything else. I’m falling for you and it scares me as much as it excites me. I know I’m making mistakes.”
            I kissed her gently on the lips.
            “You’re doing just fine.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

RemembeRED: Early

It isn’t a place on a map;
it’s a place in time.

It is dark at five AM;
my family is still asleep

It’s too cold to get out of my bed,
but I do anyway.

There is coffee in my quiet place,
and room for my thoughts to wander.

The old cat keeps me company,
he nudges my hands.

Sometimes the words come hard and fast;
sometimes they are slow and labored.

But they are mine;
in my quiet place.

Write on Edge: RemembeREDThis week's RemembeRED prompt from Write on Edge was to write "Where is your quiet place? What does it look like? What happens there?" My quiet place isn't a place at all. It's the early morning hours I spend with my cat and my laptop. I've been writing so many words lately for NaNoWriMo that today's writing came out as a poem. At least I think that's what it is. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NaNoWriMo Week Three: Halfway There!

            It’s official. I’ve made it past the first half of my National Novel Writing Month challenge. Sometime early this week I turned the half-way mark in my 50,000 word novel. If I don’t write one more word, this will be a huge accomplishment for me. I’ve never written anything longer than a twenty page term paper in college. And even that was double spaced with slightly larger than average font size.
            Now that I’ve gotten this far, I am even more inspired to write. I’m still getting up early in the mornings to write—yesterday I actually woke two minutes before my alarm went off at 5:15. I want to write—all the time. I steal moments here and there. Yesterday, I wrote before the kids were awake, before my shift started,  and on my 30 minute lunch break. I planned to close my eyes in the parking lot at James’ school while I waited for the bell to ring. Car pick up is not unlike the 8th circle of hell if you don’t arrive half an hour before school gets out. I had pounded out enough words that day. My wrists were sore and my eyes were dry. It was time for a break. Then, without thinking about it I pulled out my computer and skipped the nap. I’m obsessed.
            Is it pure literary bliss? No. Plenty of what I’m writing is  pure 100% grade A garbage. Fortunately there are bright spots that I really like. I was flipping through earlier parts of the book to try to remind myself what I named one of the minor characters and I came across a little jewel. The scene is in a bar. Michaela’s close circle of friends have arranged for a babysitter and “kidnapped” her so she can have a night out. At the bar, she sees Adam who she met for the first time earlier that day when he found and returned her lost purse. Michaela’s friend Laverne says this to her:

“You should ask the waitress to send him a beer. Beer is one of the best ways to a man’s heart—beer, bacon and sex. And do it quick. You know that man isn’t sticking around to watch karaoke.”

            Laverne is one of the minor characters in the book. But I love writing her. She is a great friend to Michaela. She has plenty of baggage, but instead of letting it drag her down, it moves her to help her friends with their burdens. Laverne’s language is colorful and honest. When I’m writing her dialogue, my fingers fly on the key board. She’s going to need her own story told at some point.
            Several of the characters have had their names changed. Peter, Michaela’s late husband started off as Barry. Michaela’s children went from Johnny and Brianna to Brian and Paige. But I chose the name Laverne almost like a place marker. I had no intention of keeping it but the more I write her the more she becomes Laverne.
            I’ve thrown a little curve into my writing schedule this week. While attending a local production of Lend Me a Tenor, a friend told me the group was still in need of two actresses for their upcoming production of The Odd Couple. I agreed to show up on Tuesday night and read for the part. I got the part of Cecily Pigeon—a flighty English Divorcee and one of only two female characters in the play. I’m really excited to get back on stage. I haven’t been in a play since the kids were born and it will be interesting to see how I balance it with NaNoWriMo. How hard could it be? Right?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Write on Edge: Dialogue from Lost and Found

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

I'm linking up with my friends at Write on Edge who challenged us this week to "Use surroundings, body language, visual cues and blocking, in addition to the spoken words, show us who they are and what their relationship is without coming out and telling us!" 
 So here is a little snippet from my current work in progress for NaNoWriMo. You can read more of the story by clicking here. I broke some NaNoWriMo "rules" by going back and editing this section. It is a conversation between my main character Michaela and her five year old daughter Paige. By the way, the child's name used to be Brianna. The more I've been writing, the more characters are telling me who they are and what they should be named. I am deeply grateful for the global replace function on my computer.

An Excerpt from Lost and Found

The kindergarteners have been trained to stand with their backs to the “waiting wall” until their adult takes them by the hand. They are a mosaic of super hero lunch boxes, princess back packs, and light up shoes. Paige anxiously scans the forest of grown ups. When her root beer colored eyes finally land on me she races forward.
“Mommy! Mommy!” she yells. I look at the teacher waiting for the reprimand than never comes. I’ve heard Mrs. Jones say “Backs to the wall! Wait for mum or dad to take your hand”  countless times. She goes easy on us. I appreciate the kindness but Paige has to learn to follow the rules sooner or later.
“I missed you too,” I tell Paige. “But you have to stay at the wall until I take your hand.”
“Okay Mommy. I made a wam!” she says.
“A what?”
“A wam! For Easter.”
“Oh! A lamb?”
“Yes. It has fuzzy cotton balls on it. Can I show you?”
“Sure baby. You can show me in the car. Can you buckle yourself?”
“Uh huh!”
She fumbles with the buckle. I remind myself to be patient and let her do it herself. As I get in to my own seat I noticed the other parents giving envelopes to the school’s Director. It’s the first Friday of the month and I’d completely forgotten that tuition is due.
“I’ll be right back honey,” I tell Paige. I walk over to the Director.
“Excuse me, Mrs. O’Connell. I’m so sorry. I forgot that today is tuition day. I’ll have it for you on Monday.”
“Oh, don’t worry Mrs. Russell. I know you have a lot on your mind.” she says.
“Thanks. Have a great weekend Mrs. O’Connell.”
            “You too Mrs. Russell.”
My face feels hot. She’s right of course. But every parent has a lot on her mind. We were never late with bills when Peter was alive. I’m angry with myself but I try to put it out of my head.
I don’t remember everything. But we could be doing worse. In the back seat, Paige is singing to her lamb and making it dance. She has shoes on her feet, clean clothes on her back and a smile on her face.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNoWriMo Week 2 Update: Inspiration

            It’s week two of NaNoWriMo. So far so good. The kids have been getting fed regularly, they have clean clothes on their backs and I have not yet begun to question my sanity. I suspect that will come in week three. I been getting up between five and six am each day to write. Several days I’ve toted my trusty lap top along and written while waiting in the car pick up line at my son’s school. I’ve been referring to my CR-V as my “mobile writing studio”. It has become just as messy as the room I work in at home.
By Thursday afternoon last week, keeping up with my own ambitions was beginning to catch up with me. I set the alarm on my phone and grabbed a twenty minute nap in the elementary school parking lot instead of writing. So now all the other moms think I drink. Silly ladies. I only drink AFTER I’ve gotten my writing done.
Fortunately I had a big dose of inspiration Thursday night. Not an idea about what to write next, but hanging out with people who are living their dreams. A friend from college is playing Daniela in the touring company of the Tony Award winning musical In the Heights. I can’t describe the thrill of seeing someone I’ve shared a stage with acting “for real”. She’s making a living doing what I do for fun. When I was in my twenties I would have been green with envy. Now I watched that show with a feeling of joy and pride. It’s good to be a grown-up.
There was inspiration all around me Thursday night. Not only for my friend living her theatrical dream, but for another friend who went with me to the show. She has cast her lot in the field of academia and is succeeding as well. Having finished her doctorate, she’s not only working in the field she loves, now she’s being promoted. She said, “This is what I’ve always wanted to do”. What could be better than that?
I got to bed around 1:00 Thursday night certain I’d never get up when my alarm went off at 5:00. I was wrong. I got out of bed and banged out another 900 words before the kids woke up. They may not be the greatest words, but I pushed through. I figure I can make it look pretty later. Right now, I just need to keep on writing.
I got another dose of inspiration on Saturday. I had the chance to meet up with more college friends. This time at a signing for Unleashed by Sara Humphreys another friend from school. Unleashed is the first in the series of five books about a secret society of shape shifters. That’s right, she has a five book deal for this series, plus a deal for an additional series about vampires. I can’t complain about not having time to write when I see what Sara has accomplished. She has twice as many sons as I do and runs her own business! No time to write? Really Vic? It’s time to make time.
          By Sunday I had passed the 10,000 word mark. I was thrilled. I had originally planned to reward myself with one of these when I reached 10k:

I’ve wanted a ceramic travel mug for  a while because I am a sometime coffee drinker and a sometime tea drinker. The flavor never completely washes out of plastic lined travel mugs. My coffee tastes like tea and my tea tastes like coffee. When I saw this on the NaNoWriMo website, I knew it was mine. But I’ve decided to set the bar higher. When I get to the half-way point, I’ll place my order. Besides, I just discovered they’re out of stock for now. Apparently, I’m not the only writer with a caffeine addiction. Who knew?
Today is day eight and as of this morning I’ve written over 14,000 words. I’ve never written this many words in a single piece before. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and I’m still fired-up to keep going. Daily I battle with the urge to go back and fix things and make changes. Last week I mentioned the advice my friend Nikki gave me about getting 2000 words written a day in the first week. It’s definitely working out well for me. Her second piece of advice was to add Ninjas when things begin to slow down in the story. I foresee Ninjas in the future for Michaela and Adam. Not literal ninjas, of course. But the chick-lit equivalent of ninjas—a fight, a betrayal, perhaps a car crash. It’s week two. Time to shake things up.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo Update and Post Halloween Wrap Up

            Happy day after Halloween! If you’re like me there is all kinds of stray candy calling your name. Oh, go ahead indulge a little. We’re heading into bulky sweater season anyway. Who’s going to know?  The kids slept in this morning—a rare treat! I was up before the sun and had the chance to write undisturbed for an hour or so. I kicked off my first day of NaNoWriMo with 1,900 words and I’m hoping to knock out a few more before the day is over. A former classmate gave me the advice to try to accomplish high word counts the first week or two so there is a chance to slack when I start to tire out later in the month. Seems like sound advice and I’m taking it. Thanks Nikki!
            We had a snowstorm the night before Halloween. A lot of communities around here are without power. We were spared the worst of the weather but there was enough snow for the boys to make snowmen and a snow jack-o-lantern on Sunday.
            But by Monday there wasn’t much left and the kids were ready to hit the town. The boys were ninjas—not just any ninjas but Kai and Jay from the Lego Ninjago series. At the last minute they wanted my husband Dan to accompany them trick or treating—in costume. Fortunately my husband used to assist in a kids karate class at the Y. So he wore his gi plus a black hoodie and my running balaclava—instant ninja. Or should I say Instant Ninjago Cole?

            All this dressing up has me nostalgic for costumes from Halloween past.  So please bear with me as I walk down memory lane.

2010 Photographic evidence that I am the world's best sport.
2009 Clone Commander Cody...

...and his little brother the monkey. I never managed to get the boys in the same picture.

2008 I drove myself crazy trying to make a dragon costume, then found this at KMart for $14.00. We can't all be Martha Stewart.

2007 Optimus Prime and my little Cowboy.

2006 Batman & Robin. Have you ever seen such cute super heroes?

2005 One of my favorites. Every store sold out of Yoda costumes. I made this one out of a piece of green polar fleece and a big white hoodie.

2004 First Halloween as brothers.

2003 Baby bear and Papa bear.

2002 No costume. I remember taking this picture thinking I ought to get him a costume for his first Halloween. But I'm too frugal and I can't imagine he could have gotten any cuter.