Friday, November 29, 2013

I've been writing!

And it feels good. Even though I put writing aside willingly, I missed it.

So I signed up for a fic exchange in August and banged out over 10K in a six-week period. It felt good, though I'm a bit rusty. And getting the feedback once the thing gets posted will be exciting. I love the instant gratification, what can I say??

Once I finished that, I dug around my files and pulled out an old story that I really loved and read through it. The writing is good. Not many changes were needed on what was already written, aside from adding a missing word here and there or fixing an inconsistency or two.

Why did I never finish it, you ask?

Well, because, my old nemesis, THE PLOT, got the better of me. Mostly I know where the story's going, but I also know its weaknesses. Well, my weaknesses. The stakes for the characters are not quite as high as they should be. I realize it's "just" a romance novel, not any type of thriller, but it's still missing a few key elements. Important elements.

See, it's not that I don't know that they need to be there, it's just that I struggle to figure what those things need to be for my characters and my stories. It's like I have a mental block in this particular area and it's very frustrating.

My hope is that by reading enough books on plotting, I'll have a few light bulb moments and this aspect of telling a story will get easier. *fingers crossed* I might need to find someone to help me work this out, though I mostly what I can afford to pay is a meal and a reciprocal discussion or some proofreading.

By the way, I found a book on plot on my iPad, so I've already taken that first step and started reading. I'm gonna read it once while my story percolates, then read it again and really dig in and do the exercises with my book and these characters in mind. And with any luck, I'll make some headway.

In the meantime, I'll keep writing as much and as often as I can. Once I've figured out those plot elements, I'll go back and drop them in. I think it'll be fairly easy for this book.

And I'm gonna share an excerpt, no context or anything. If you have a moment to read it, I'd love to know your thoughts.


I’m Linney.

She shook her head. The voice was inside her head. She must be losing her marbles, more upset about Cole than she’d thought.

She took a deep breath. She wasn’t crazy. She wasn’t.

The girl, Virgie, came out of the bathroom and placed a gentle hand on Claire’s arm. “I know you really don’t want to go to the dance, but please, Linney, you have to stop being so sad.”

Linney, Caroline, dance. Linney, Caroline, dance. Linney was Caroline. That’s right, she’d called herself that in the journal. And Virgie thought she, Claire, was Caroline-from-the-journal. The dance was…the dance was the USO dance where Caroline had met her sailor.

What the hell?

An internal gasp. Ladies don’t use such language.

No. No way. This was crazy. It was as if she’d been transported back in time. And she was somehow sharing a body with this Caroline. She looked down at herself—she still wore her own clothes. She touched her hair. Also still her own.

Okay, so maybe she was just sharing a…consciousness?

But how? She took a breath.

“Earth to Linney.”

Claire blinked and looked at Virgie, who thought she was talking to Caroline. Curious.

“Please?” Spoken softly, it wasn’t a take-me-to-the-dance please, but a don’t-let-a-man-do-this-to-you please.

With a nod and a faint smile, Claire turned back up the steps to her attic room. Gone were the letters. Gone was the journal. Gone was her Irish Chain quilt―a different one in its place.

No built-in closet, no vinyl mini-blinds, no ceiling fan. And no turquoise walls with brown accents. Just plain, pale yellow walls. A quartet of floral prints hung above the bed.

Claire’s breathing sped up and she pulled in deep droughts of air. She turned three-sixty, taking in her surroundings.

A bed that sagged slightly in the center; a pile of white cotton underwear and virginal brassieres sat on the corner of it; a half-dozen pair of shoes peeked out from under it. A huge armoire filled one corner of the room; its double doors wide open to reveal a colorful collection of blouses and skirts. Not a pair of blue jeans to be seen.

How was this happening? It had to be a dream. There was just no other plausible explanation. And what about Cole?

Claire shoved her hands into her pockets, her left hand closing around the keys. They felt electric and warm and she pulled them out and looked at them again.

Two fat brass keys with filigreed heads sat upon her open hand, vibrating oh-so-slightly and still radiating warmth. A faint clinking reached her ears.

Something about the dream theory didn’t feel right. Didn’t fit. Not to mention, she hadn’t fallen asleep at any point since she’d started reading the journal.

Wonderment and incredulity made her gasp. Had these keys been the thing that transported her? Like a portkey in the Harry Potter series? When they’d fallen from the journal, she’d picked them up and the next thing she knew, she was here. Wherever, whenever here was.

Charleston, South Carolina, 1942.

But that was crazy. Things like that didn’t happen. They certainly didn’t happen to her. A nice, normal woman, a dental hygienist.

A dental hygienist? What’s that?

And voices in her head. That wasn’t normal at all. A wave of dizziness hit her and she bent over, bracing her hands on her knees and took steadying breaths. In through her nose, out through her mouth. In through her nose, out throu—

A pounding sounded on the bedroom door.

Claire’s heart leapt to her throat. She straightened, stumbling slightly to one side. No, no, no. There was no one home with her. The knock sounded again and she stared at the door as if it had grown wings and horns. She glanced at the keys again before shoving them back in her pocket.

“Linney, what are you wearing tonight?” called Virgie.

This couldn’t be happening. Could it?

“Lin-ney.” She sounded exasperated.

Claire glanced at the armoire, then at the vanity. An outfit lay across the padded seat. “My white blouse with the shirred sleeves and the dark green serge skirt.” She clamped a hand over her mouth. She’d spoken without meaning to. Caroline had spoken. How was this even possible?

“Well, hurry up,” said Virgie.

She pulled the keys from her pocket once more and squeezed them. Closed her eyes. Wished on them. Concentrated on her own room. Opened her eyes.


She closed her eyes, turned in place three times, and wished again. Peeking open first one eye, then the other, she groaned and stomped her foot. Dammit. If they’d brought her here, they weren’t getting her home. At least not yet.

Another knock. “Linney, come on, we’re going to be late.”