Tag Archives: original work

Fiction Friday: Dark Parts of Motherhood, an excerpt from Novel-in-Progress

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By Leslie Lindsay Write on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a Novel

Here’s a little something I’ve been working on this week. It’s from my novel-in-progress, ZOMBIE ROAD and is in the POV of the protagonist, Melanie (Mel) Dunbar. It’s a little dark…but I’m guessing if you’re a mom, you’ve likely had similar dark-ish feelings tainted with a streak of very fresh hormones.

“No one ever told me about the dark parts of motherhood. I gave birth and people brought over the sweetest little shoes and pale pink swaddling blankets. They swooped in with tuna noodle casseroles and apple pies just to get a look at you nestled in my arms and they’re left. No one ever came when I was alone and afraid I’d do something wrong. Nor did they offer to rock you at three-in-the-morning when you, my perfect baby wouldn’t sleep and I was awake, grainy-eyed and angry.

Then I was alone, my body trying to heal—and daddy was back at the office. He took the university offered paternity leave of two paid weeks, but that’s not nearly long enough. There was a mix of joy and rage as I looked at you, your sweet, tiny face all puckered up. I knew if I wanted, I could kill you. Just one toss down the stairs or a slip in the plastic baby tub and you’d take your last breath.

After I had you, I understood for the first time why some women shake their babies to death. Or drive off a dock into a body of water, killing them both.

But I’ve never do such a thing. That’s not to say it didn’t cross my mind. Life is so fragile. It can be taken so quickly, but in your case, it wasn’t given very easily. Three miscarriages. One stillbirth.

Then you.

Enye, the purest love. Celtic for grace.

[This is a work of original fiction. Please do not copy or assume as your own. Feedback appreciated]

Fiction Friday: Dark & Haunting Excerpt from Zombie Road

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By Leslie Lindsay Write On, Wednesday:  Creating a World So Believable Your Critique Partners Think You're Having an Affair

Slowly plugging along at the next novel while in the midst of submitting the other one to agents…not to mention stuffing the Tofurkey and zipping around the southwestern sbuburbs playing Santa’s helper.  This is an out-of-sequence sence written from protagonist Melanie Dunbar’s POV in which she’s doing some digging on her new St. Louis suburb, the fictional Chestnut Ridge (read Wildwood).  It’s still pretty rough still, but gives the general impression of what I’m looking to convey.

“There wasn’t much in Chestnut Ridge. A single street whose wooden sign read, “Zombie Road.”  I cocked my head and narrowed my eyes…was it a joke?  Who really names a road after a zombie?  I walked past a dozen cottages, built in pairs.  Here and there a distinctive feature stood out—a children’s swing, a wooden bench, a massive tree.  But for the most part, each dwelling, with its thatched cedar siding, the limestone foundations, and sloped porch coverings resembled its neighbor as if a mirrored image.  Cottage windows looked out onto what had been a resort community, each boasting  simplicity that conjured sun-drenched days along the shore, a scramble of laughter giddy with life, nostalgia, and all things warm and cozy. The landscape was studded with massive trees, a rocky spread that would have been nearly impossible to farm.

There was no traffic in this seemingly deserted copse of land, no sign of human life at all. I passed the last cottage and came to a combined post office general store and that’s when the feeling of life overtook me.

Two children bounded out of the door, their clothing (old-fashioned), their mother scurrying behind them…a silence of ragtag music pierced my ears, I held my cupped hands over them, wincing. A boy reached up, a wrapper dropping on the ground. His face dirty and hair disshelved. He turned and upon recognition—did he recognize me—let loose a chirp, a wave and then scampered away with his mother and presumably sister.  Like he was pleased I was there to catalog his small, but not insignificant life.

He then launched into a dash, then jolted to a halt when they saw me.  Two brown fringe fell into their eyes.  A smattering of freckles, a sheepish grin…they were children I had known.  Somewhere.  Somehow.”

Feedback is always appreaciated. Thanks for reading!

[This is original work based on an urban legend in St. Louis, MO county. Please do not copy or take as your own. Thank you.]

Fiction Friday: Annie Ruminates

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By Leslie Lindsay Write on, Wednesday:  Imagine a Better Writer

A chapter I’ve been working on this week…a little rumination never hurt anyone, or does it?!

        “Distractions are the pinnacle of rumination.  It’s a cycle, a bad one that keeps me going back to Steve.  An addiction, if you will. 

        There was no changing the fact that I opened the door to Steve again.  I shove all of those thoughts—the second-guessings, the self-doubt, the poor choice in character – to the back of my mind.  What kind of married woman, a mother of two does such a stupid thing?  Steve is a one-sided battle I fight, my distractions the victor.

         I try to funnel attention to my family.  I make a list of all of the things I want to complete before summer’s end.  One by one, we’ll mark them off.  Family picnic…koi spawning at the local botanical garden…camp out in the backyard (note to self: get the makin’s for s’mores)…ice cream at the old-fashioned ice creamery…take Kenna and Madi to downtown Naperville for new shoes.

          And so there I a in a park, communing with nature a la family picnic.  An item to mark off my list; to push time forward and anchor me in the present.  Away from Steve. 

         When I added this little adventure to my list, I envisioned the perfect nuclear family and, of course, the perfect setting. A red and white checkered blanket spread amongst the fecund landscape, a real wicker basket packed with wholesome, nutritious foods like ham and swiss on croissants, fresh grapes, and homemade cookies—the kind from that sneaky chef person with chickpeas mashed inside for added health. The girls would be dressed in their Sunday best and Joe and I would raise a glass of cool, crisp white wine—a toast to a summer’s eve.

           Only our picnic isn’t my vision. 

           I ran out of time to bake.  There was no wine chilling in our fridge, only the sticky strawberry jam that leaked from its squeeze bottle, gumming the Temperlite shelves, a strawberry glace.  The diaper bag doubled as a picnic basket, crammed with 6-inch Subway sandwiches. We had cookies, only they were the institutional kind baked on a conveyor belt. 

        Even the weather doesn’t cooperate with my expectations.  For a picnic, it should be light, airy. A gentle breeze of halcyonic lilt. 

          But it’s hot.  Really hot.  It reminds me of a Georgia summer.  Thick, sweet air hung in the distance. 

         Sometimes, nothing matches my high expectations. 

         I stand, brushing the crumbs off my lap as I survey the scene.  A sense of quiet tranquility settles amongst us, just our family and a lone teenager jogging on the other side of the lake. Everyone else is smart enough to stay inside, air conditioners humming. 

        I wipe my brow and pick up the remnants of our family picnic, tossing the paper sandwich wrappers in the rancid-smelling garbage cans.  The smell of death and decay.  Despite the heat, I shiver.

       Sweat rolls down my back as I stand at the precipice between the lakeside pavilion and the bike trail.  The summer’s evening closing in on us, the setting sun a soft pink, whisps of purple spin through the sky like cotton candy.  Kenna and Madi scamper along the wooded path searching for rocks and wildflowers.  I arched my back and shaded my face for a better look even though their giggles and chatter reassured me. 

      You can’t be a helicopter parent.  Let them explore. 

       I shake my head.  I wish her wisdom would stop.   My mind feels fluid, as if it’s floating around in my skull. I am ruminating, one of my worst qualities. What had she said about ruminations…they were nothing but a dream past its expiration.  I got lost again, my mind running through files of dreams.  Who was in them, what we were doing—who we were becoming—Steve.”

[This is an original work of fiction for my novel-in-progress, “Slippery Slope.”]

Fiction Friday: Getting Darker

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By Leslie Lindsay Fiction Friday:

Working at making my novel-in-progress a little darker, a little grittier.  I think this helps.  It’s set in the main character’s college days.  Remember, this is original work, not to be copied or shared as your own.  Thanks….and enjoy!!

“I used to imagine it sometimes, what would happen if I just didn’t come home.  The thought always came to me when I was feeling particularly unworthy, lacking confidence, seeking attention.  God, I hated how that sounded; like I was an attention-seeking borderline threatening to run off or take my own life.  I could never do that, not really anyway.  The thought was always more about sharing my pain with others, letting them know just how miserable I felt deep down.  My desire to disappear came forth in the form of generosity.  Let me show you how I feel; Welcome to my personal hell; you should feel lucky.

          They were anything but lucky.  My desperation and irritability put a shield around me, making me lonely in busy world. 

          “I wish I could just drive my car off a cliff,” I’d say.  Or, perhaps I met my demise in some other way; the 18-wheeler would come barreling into my tiny Toyota crushing it like a tin can, with me in the driver’s seat.  My short life would flash before my eyes, summer camps and dance recitals, class photos, and crushes. Steve.

          Whatever it was, something terrible would happen and my friends and family—would have to return to my apartment to find all of the daily pieces of my interrupted life.  My dad would see the microbiology text left open on my desk, those tiny colored tabs ruffling the edges of the book.  Remember this.  Memorize that.  My mother would pick up my thong underwear in the corner of the room with her manicured nails and wonder why I spent money on a piece of clothing that covered so little. My roommate would thumb through the mail and set aside the Psychology Today magazine.  There would be to-do notes and lists throughout my bedroom, a brush with hair still entwined in it, Tom Petty stuck in the CD player, framed photos of me and friends, a smattering of greeting cards propped up like dummies. 

          This is how it would look.  A snapshot of my life.  Don’t touch it.  It’s my life.  I would try with all of my might to communicate the message but I would be gone.  Dead, probably.   Because running off wouldn’t be enough.

          Hiding out can only last so long.  Eventually one has to come back, reclaim their old life, or find a new one.  And really, who can reinvent themselves?  We think we can, but when it comes down to it, our personalities are so ingrained, it would be impossible. 

          So being dead would be better. 

          Friends and family—and people I don’t even know would come to my funeral.  They’d wear black and bow their heads and mutter things like she was such a nice person, always smiling…I had no idea…such a tragedy…she held so much promise.  They’d lay flowers on my casket and hug and shed some tears.

          And Steve would be there, too.  His eyes would be glassy and bloodshot, a dark suit, three-days worth of scruff.  He’d lean in and whisper to my parents, “I really loved her, you know?”  They’d nod and pull Steve into a three-way embrace, tears streaming down momma’s face.  Dad would reach up and touch the corner of his eye, but no tears would flow.  After the hug, they’d hold Steve with outstretched arms, resting their hands on his broad shoulders, “You were good for her, son,” they’d say and this time, they’d mean it.  They’d be sorry it was over.  Sorry they never accepted him like I had. 

          Steve would press his lips into a tight line and nod solemnly, his gaze gliding to the open doorway where Beth Donovan sits on a divan in a gray dress and black heels.  She’d twist her face into the doorway of the funeral parlor and there may be tears because she’s my age and she knows that it could have easily have been her who was side-smacked in an accident. How fleeting—and precious life can be.  Perhaps the tears were because she knew she caused my death.

Fiction Friday:

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By Leslie Lindsay Misc Feb-March 2013 013

Back to that novel of mine.  Revisions are still underway,  thought you’d like to see what I am up to with Slippery Slope.  [remember, this is original fiction.  Your ideas for improvement are greatly appreciated] 

“I storm out of Steve’s driveway, backing the Odyssey out while punching in Joe’s number.  He picks up on the first ring. 

        “Hi, sweetie.  How are things going?  Make it to Pat Cooper’s office?”

        “Pat?  Who?” I narrow my eyes.  
        “You know.  The message.  This morning.  Mystery shopper.” 

         “Oh…yeah,” I feign recognition.  “Just leaving his office now.”  I look to the homes lining the streets, big and new.  Not Pat Cooper’s office.  “Listen, I need to pop in to Target for a minute.  Madi needs some Pull-Ups.” 

          “Okay.  Don’t worry about us.  We’re heading to the hardware store after we finish at the park.  Love ya, hon!” 

          “Joe, you have no idea how much I love you.”  I say and I mean it. 

          I hear a smile on the end of the phone, “I think I do.”

______________

       Pat Cooper’s office is located in an old Victorian in downtown Waubonsee, across from the train tracks and not too far from this new restaurant, Cress Creek Bistro.  I’ll have to talk to Joe about going there sometime. 

        I park and walk onto the porch.  Hanging baskets display colorful pansies and foliage, a spray of spring flowers hangs from the door in a tin bucket. Did I do that?  I shuffle my feet on the floor mat, the wrap-around porch pristine and orderly.  I know he’s here.  Pat lives in the upstairs apartment.  I ring the doorbell and wait. 

       Pat opens the door slowly, a precaution being a Saturday and then sticks his head out.  “Annie!” 

       I nod and tip my shoulders.  “Pat, hi.  I got your message.  We were out last night.” 

       “Yes, yes.  I spoke with your babysitter.  Come on in.”  He steps aside and allows me to enter.  Such the gentleman.   

       He ushers me to a small alcove to the right.  A majestic Victorian desk takes up the space, a stained glass window behind him.  He points to a chair, “Sit, please.” 

        I do, crossing my legs.  My flats don’t compare to anything Jackie would wear.  He pulls a slim portfolio from a drawer and slides it across the desk.  “Here’s your report from the other day, Annie.  And your check.” 

       I nod. 

       Pat Cooper leans back in his chair, “Annie, you do good work.  Your reports are always carefully done, great attention to detail.  You really have an eye for decorating.” 

       If you only knew, Pat Cooper.  I think of what Jackie said just hours ago.  Gifted with art.  Psychotic depression.  A break.  I spread my lips into a tight smile. 

       “We read your report to the president of the company.  He loved it,” and then he looks down at his desk, fiddling with a paperweight.  “But, we didn’t show them your video.” 

        “Oh,” I say.  “You didn’t need it.” 

        “More like didn’t want it.” 

        “I don’t understand,” I re-cross my legs and lean forward. 

         “Annie, I am not sure who you were with that day, but your commentary was completely inappropriate.” 

         “I’m sorry?”

          “It was—oh, how do I say this,” he steeples his hands in front of his face.  “The audio picked up a lot of personal discussion.” 

          “Really,” I shake my head.  “I wonder if there was some interference with the audio equipment?” 

           He pushes himself away from the desk.  “I’d show it to you, but I think it would embarrass you.” 

          I think I know what’s happened, but I don’t want to offer any explanation.  I just play dumb.  “Can I make it up to you somehow?”

         “No, I don’t think that will be necessary.  You aren’t who I thought you were, that’s all,” he shakes his head. 

        “I see.” I consider explaining myself, but since I am unaware of what that audio tape holds, I keep mum. 

        “You’ll be happy to know we fired the Tricia Peterson, the saleswoman at Grande Pointe Lake.  She should have gone with you into the models, she shouldn’t have put any bias on you about what model she likes best, and well, there were a lot of other things, too.  You did your job.  And that’s all we can really ask.  But Annie, I am this is the last time you will be doing a mystery shop for us.” 

       The words attack my gut, a blow to my confidence.  M Y S T E R Y.  Last time.  My mouth goes dry. 

         Pat Cooper continues, “I operate a wholesome business here, even though it seems somewhat deceptive.  I need good people.  You’re good—you know design, you’re professional—most of the time.  This time, you screwed up, bringing a boyfriend along.” 

        I close my eyes and lean back in the chair.  I shake my head, “It’s been a rough time lately.  I could explain, but you’d have a hard time believing me,” I reach for my check.  “Thank you, Pat.  It’s been nice working with you.” 

        He stands and walks me to the door.  He reaches forward and pats me on the back.  “You’re good people, Annie.  I won’t hold this against you.” 

       The door clicks behind me.

Fiction Friday: Chasing After Illusions

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By Leslie Lindsay Fiction Friday:

Here we are back in Leslie’s novel, Slippery Slope.  Annie (female protagonist) is at the gym chasing after illusions.  Remember, this is an original work of fiction.  Please feel free to offer comments, feedback, etc. but don’t take as your own work.  Thanks–and enjoy!

      I am back at the gym.  The dreaded treadmill; an artificial run.  The mechanics of the machine lifting itself up, clanging and cranking.  Feigning a hill.  

      Hot, rubbery legs. 

       Steve’s legs, long and lean reaching for my foot.  The other day.  Lunch.

       I press the speed button several times—5.3 MPH.  A good, healthy jog.  My heart is pounding, but not because of the run. I didn’t sleep well last night.      

     Joe’s breath on the back of my neck. 

     See a therapist.  You’re not yourself.

      Steve’s cocky grin. 

      I tossed and turned.  Thinking.  Dreaming. 

      Come back to me.

      So much pent-up energy inside of my body. 

      I close my eyes briefly, my legs pounding the black rubber strip. Madi’s bottom-lip popped out appears in my mind.  She’s sitting on Mrs. Stover’s lap—the headmistress at Hollybrook Academy.  She’s not crying, but she looks worried. 

       Where’s my mommy?

        I crank the speed up higher.  My legs taking me nowhere, yet running me in circles. 

         Madi’s eyes brighten when she sees me.  She scrambles out of Mrs. Stover’s lap and into my arms. 

        I press the buttons on the machine, increasing my pace.  5.9 MPH. Joe’s height. 

       I’m so sorry, Joe.  I’m sorry, Madi.  It won’t happen again, I promise. 

      Mentally apologizing won’t work.  My body needs more.  The thoughts won’t go away.  I crank the speed to 6.1 MPH.

       The digits attack my consciousness, coming at me like a giant Pac-Man, gobbling away dots in a maze.  

        I called your husband, you know.  Flake, unorganized mother, watch out for that one.

        I punch the arrow on the treadmill again.  6.3 MPH.

        Steve. 

        My legs struggle to keep up.  My breath coming in puffs.  A metallic taste fills my mouth.  I reach for my water bottle.

        Can I take it here?  Can I do this?  Sweat rolls down my forehead, my back. 

        My cleavage.   

        It goes on like this for twenty-six minutes.

        Running after illusions. 

Fiction Friday: Joe and Annie’s Marital Spat

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By Leslie Lindsay Fiction Friday:

Here’s a new excerpt from Slippery Slope.  The main characters are having a marital spat…due to her, uh…indiscretion, but no one knows just how slippery the slope can be.  A work of original fiction. 

         “Joe is in the master bedroom unpacking his suitcase from New York.  He hangs his garment bag over the closet door.  The tension is thick as I open and close drawers to our dresser, putting laundry away.    

       “She called me, you know,” he said abruptly. 

       I shook my head–confused, distracted, “Who called you?” 

       “The other day…Madi’s principal.” 

       My whole body grows cold, like ice.  My head feels dizzy, my mouth dry. 

      “Where were you?  Why were you late?” 

       I shove some socks into a drawer, turned to close it with my hips, “I….uh…was just running late,” I offered. 

       I fiddled with the laundry basket–that funny little piece that had broken off, flapping like a broken appendage—thinking of an excuse on the fly—or look distracted so I could concoct a better answer.  I was having lunch with my ex-boyfriend from before I knew you. 

       Joe sucked in a deep breath and asked, “Running late…doing what?” The man was tenacious. 

      Breezily, I respond, “Oh, you know…running around taking care household errands…and…one of those market research studies I do from time to time for extra cash.  Traffic got bad.” 

      As if that explained it all, Joe nodded and said, “Well, I was worried.  I mean, it’s not good for Madi to be last in line for pick-up.  Not that I could have done anything about it myself, but well…”  That’s your job, you big bozo of a mother. 

      “So, I could have died in a car crash and that is why I was late to preschool, and you are worried about Madi being the last kid for pick-up?” 

        “No, no.  That’s not what I said, Annie.”  He cleared his voice, “I just was worried—first, if there was a problem with you, and second how Madi was feeling.  I hated being the last kid for pick-up from school, sports, whatever…and I don’t want our daughters to feel that way, either.” 

     “That’s not what you said.  Your first concern was Madi.” 

     “Well, can you blame me?!  She is only three after all.  You are the mature, responsible adult here, her mother.” 

     My shoulders slumped, my eyes narrowed, “Don’t you go around making me out to be some irresponsible, soap-opera-watching, bon-bon-eating mother who forgets about her own children!  I know very well what my role is and I take it seriously.  It’s a lot of work running after these kids and keeping the house tidy.  If you don’t believe me, why don’t you give it try?  I will go off and do some work in some other city for awhile and eat fancy food, stay in a fancy hotel and call you on my cell phone for a change.”  

       “Fine!  Okay—let’s trade places, Annie.  You can go to work every day and deal with bosses and deadlines and make presentations and try to get your work published in research journals, maybe submit some things for a conference.  You can be away from your family for days on end and have to make small talk with people you barely know.  Bet you don’t even know how to manage a team of individuals, do you?  You can worry about whether or not you’ll get a promotion or a bonus…or fired, even!” 

     I felt the backs of my eyes prick, tears threatening to let loose, though I didn’t understand why.  Was it because I was being made out to be a dumb housewife, or was it because Joe was raising his voice at me, something he rarely did?

Fiction Friday:

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By Leslie Lindsay

Another installment from my womens’ fiction novel…remember, this is original work and not intended to represent anyone living or dead.  Please do not borrow, beg, or steal.  I’d love to hear your comments on this.  Preparing to pitch to an agent in mid-April.  Enjoy!  Fiction Friday:  Work-in-Progress from "Slippery Slope"

“I sniffed out a smile and shrugged, secretly pleased with their assessment of my Annie.  When I wandered down to the bedroom, rubbery cheese pizza in hand, I leaned on the door jamb and watched.  Annie and Colin were perched on the green shag carpeting, her arm around him, a book open in her lap.  “And then the third little pig…”  Her voice lilting with excitement.  I knew then that I would marry Annie Kelley and make babies with her. 

And now, that dream has been shattered.  All because of one little mistake, more like a series of mistakes.  I hang out with Beth in college.  I kiss Beth.  I ignore Annie.  She needs more. 

And now she is getting more.  More kids. 

Less of me. 

I lean back, the leather chair creaking with my weight, and reach for my beer.  I really need something stronger.  I take a swig, stroke my jaw, and close my eyes.  Vodka.  In the wet bar. 

I heft myself up and head downstairs to the wet bar.  I open a cabinet and rummage around.  There, in the back is a bottle of Smirnoff.  I reach for a highball glass, the kind etched with our monogram—a wedding gift—and pour some.  It goes down with a strong burn.  I grimace.  A crystal-clear numbing agent. 

Tough luck.   You made your bed, Steve.  My hands tremble slightly as I reach for the glass again.  And again.

My head is clogged-a spider web of snot, an impenetrable membrane of fascia.  I reach for a can of nuts and rip off the foil liner.  I pop almonds, cashews into my mouth, spilling them down the front of my shirt.

I’m not sober. It’s over. 

I reach for my cell sitting on the counter.  I could call her.  Tell her how much I love her.  Again.  I am not opposed to raising another man’s child. 

Beth.  How would that work?  I swallow another gulp of Vodka.  I could just divorce her like everyone else does in this day and age.  A divorce is as easy as filing your taxes.  Hell, some attorneys even offer free divorces on Valentine’s Day. 

Does that make them cupid, or the devil?

But then I would have to wait almost a year.  I suck my teeth of nut residue and pick up my cell again.  I tap Beth’s mom’s number into the phone.  The ringing is deafening.  I hold the phone away from my ear. 

“Hello?”

I say nothing. 

“Steve, is that you?”  Mrs. Donovan is pointed.  I picture her looking to Beth, slumped at the kitchen table of her childhood home, an uneaten grilled cheese and bowl of tomato soup sitting in front of her.

“Yeah, it’s me.”

I bet Beth twists her hair into a bun, shoving a pencil in to secure it and then waving her hands as if to tell her mom that she doesn’t want to talk.

I imagine Mrs. Donovan looks to her daughter, my wife.  My head rock-heavy and swimming in Vodka. 

“Steve, she doesn’t want to talk.”

“But why the hell not?  She’s my wife.  My wife!”

“I know.  She’s hurt.  Leave her be.”

“I don’t want to be alone,” my words slur.  My tongue thick.

“Steve, are you drinking?” 

“What does it matter?”

“I think you need to stop drinking and sober up.  She’s not going to talk to you when you’re drunk.” 

“But she’s my wife….”

“I am hanging up now, Steve.  Please don’t call back.” 

I fling the phone across the room.  A framed photo falls to the floor, the glass smattering into tiny shards. “

Fiction Friday: I Drink Alone

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By Leslie Lindsay

Write On, Wednesday:  Creating a World So Believable Your Critique Partners Think You're Having an Affair

Still working away on that novel of mine…here we are in 2nd draft re-writes.  What’s the difference between re-writing and revising?  How about editing?  Is that all the same?  Well, no.  At least I don’t *think* so.  Here are my own definitions:

  • Revise.  To my ear, this simply means tweaking the words you already have on paper (or screen).  It may mean making a statement or description more clear.  It may mean switching the order of the sentences…that’s a “new vision,”  or a revise. 
  • Rewrite.  This one sounds harder than revising, and it may be–just depends on where you’re at in the process.  Here’s what I think this means…”you’ve got a great concept here, but it  sucks like a vacuum.  Save the general gist of this piece, but made it much more active by adding in dialogue, subtracting over-zealous amounts of backstory, and removing extra words like ‘had’ and ‘was.’  When I get a submission back with this type of advice, at first I groan and then I have fun because making the scene come alive is really why I love to write. 
  • Editing.  This is really sharply focusing that lense that has become your story.  I think of ‘editing’ mostly as a grammatical phase, but it may not be 100% the case.  Look for typos, gaps in the story/setting/characterization.  Make sure your work is infused with your theme. 

To be “good,” I believe we writers have to be judicious about all three steps.  And to know when each section needs these tools.  Okay, on to the section I have been working on this week.  (It’s probably still not ‘done’).  [As always, this is original work, it’s fiction. It’s not up for grabs.]  Enjoy!

          “I heated my Lean Cuisine in the microwave.  The hum of the appliance lulled me to sleep as I stood at the counter flipping through the day’s mail.  Dinner tonight was Butternut Squash Ravioli with veggies.  The box read: Spa Collection.  Yeah, the plastic tray really made me feel like I was at a spa.  I poured myself a glass of white wine, grabbed the heated meal from the microwave and plopped on the floor of the family room.  Alone. 

         I drink alone, for no one is near. 

         The girls were bed at last.  The digital clock on the DVD display read 8:42 p.m.  The day was over and I felt like I had accomplished nothing.  I sighed and stabbed a ravioli with my fork.  

         I flicked on the TV for background noise and found something about a kitchen facelift for one hundred bucks or less HGTV.  I watched, mesmerized as the woman tacked fabric remnants to the padded kitchen chairs giving the room a whole new look.  My eyes trailed along to my own diaper bag/portfolio wedged in the corner of the room, tucked between a bookcase and a toy bin.  I scowled at it.  As if that was going to any bit of good. 

         You must tackle your fears head on.

         I mumbled a few choice words before I got up and grabbed that bag.   I sure wish her voice would stop taunting me.   

         I tossed out the dried up wipes stained from Madi’s sticky fingers, my lipstick—cocoa rose, and Kenna’s princess coloring book, leaving just my black leather portfolio. I picked it up—no one understands the heft a portfolio, not even one barely filled—and inhaled the new leather scent.  I cracked it open, smoothing my hands over the glossy 8×10’s I had run off at Walgreens.  Images of Kenna and Madi’s bedrooms filled the photos; earthy green walls covered in whimsical trees and birdies for Madi and puppy dogs and ladybugs for Kenna.  I smiled, lost in the memory of creating those rooms at our old house.  I flipped a page.  Our guest bedroom came to life with a rich swirly paisley in greens and blues.  My favorite colors to work with.  Light, airy and relaxing.

Fiction Friday: “Sh*t, or get off the Pot”

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By Leslie Lindsay

Fiction Friday:  Work-in-Progress from "Slippery Slope"

Here’s some new stuff from my novel-in-progress.  This character was orginally hard to write, but he’s really starting to come to life.  Onward, Steve!

[Remember this is fiction.  It is not meant to represnt anyone real, living or dead.  Please do not beg, borrow, or steal…if you like, great–if not, that’s okay, too]

         Twenty zoomed by in a blur.  Mentally, my mind worked out the numbers.  Four years in college.  Two of them with Annie.  Plus another 3 or so months of dating her in high school.  A year of an internship.  Four years dating Beth.  Three years at my first job…married for 5…events overlapped like a Venn Diagram.  It was becoming a bad word problem.  Overarching the whole problem, at its core was Annie.  The mathematical study of change.  Calculus.  I remember our prof from college, a rail-thin guy with an ironic affinity for words: “calculus is derived from Latin, meaning ‘to cut with stone.’  I didn’t quite get it then, and I still don’t now.  No amount of formal education had prepared me for the number pattern that was Annie Kelley.

         I didn’t think that moment my senior year in high school would’ve made much of an impact on me, but it did.  It was the beginning of me and Annie.  She drifted into that health & wellness class so many years ago with a friend and a smile. Scarlett was her name.  (I remembered that because who names their kid Scarlett unless they are obsessed with Gone with the Wind?)  Annie’s long wavy hair fell over her shoulders to her perky breasts.  Her pear-shaped ass danced in front of my adolescent eyes.  I got a boner just sitting there.  She slid her backpack off her shoulders and tucked it under her desk and sat with her legs crossed, her pen poised as though she was about to jot down something important.  There wasn’t anything important in that class, believe me. 

         Except for Annie. She was my first glimpse into the world of love.  And the beginning of my obsession of all things Annie.

         I raked my hands through my hair; my brow still a bit damp from the anxiety of my morning drive-by.  I had a job to do and needed to look the part.  I reached over to the passenger seat, snatched a cap.  Da Bears.  I crammed it onto my head.  I couldn’t wear it into work, but it might flatten things down. 

          I pulled into the gate at Carmargo, waved my hand and offered a straight-line smile to the fat woman in the glass vestibule.  “Yep, here for the duration,” I wanted to tell her, no running off to Hallmark today.”  I parked my car on the lower level of the underground garage, hefted my backpack onto my shoulders and tossed the cap aside.  I took the elevator up two flights to the main level entrance.  

         I passed by the receptionist in the bright white lobby—skylights and green plants make for an atrium feel—and offered a nod.  She looked up, licking her lips and called out, “Good morning, Mr. Kesselhoff.”  I straightened my posture, relishing in the fact that she knew my name before ducking into the stairway down a level where I really do my work: the lab.  Hopefully, no one would notice that I was a little late. 

         Driving by Annie’s house was stupid. If you ain’t gonna shit, get off the pot.  The thought gripped me as I leaned over the morning buffet table, snatching a donut and refilling my travel mug with something tastier than Beth’s cup-of-Joe.  The Wednesday morning leadership meetings always brought catered breakfast. 

       Hump day. 

       This was just another perk.  Besides the hot receptionist, of course.

       I chuckled at the stupid joke we engineers shared with our college sweeties.  It went like this: Sex is like math: Add the bed, subtract the clothes, divide the legs, and pray to God you don’t multiply! 

        Annie. 

        Today I was going to get off the pot. 

        Or shit.

Potty Training, Potty Training Charts, Potty Training Boys

(image source: http://www.potty-training-secrets-exposed.com/Offer.html)

 [This is an orgianl work of Fiction is not meant to represnt anyone real, living or dead. Please do not beg, borrow, or steal…if you like, great–if not, that’s okay, too. Images links are for entertainment and are not necessarily endorsed by the author.  As with all things on the Internet, please assess accordingly.]