Tag Archives: work in progress

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: Better Late than Never

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By Leslie Lindsay1028567918_rd7wi-ti-1.jpg

It’s Friday about one more hour here in the central part of the US and I best get my promised Fiction Friday post out.  If you’re on the West Coast, then I guess I am not so tardy…

This one is something I’ve been working on lately to add a little dark edge to my novel-in-progress.  Let me know your thoughts when you get a second…a star, a comment, a like, a re-post to Twitter or Facebook is always a good way to let me know if you liked it. 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

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. “

Write on, Wednesday: Being Inspired thru the Holidays

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

I find that my writing time and inspiration is starting to diminish as I get more involved with the holidays.  I bet I not alone.  While my time may be limited and my talents used in other arenas (I’m  a mean gift wrapper, decorator, etc.), I am still finding time to be inspired for when I do have the time to sit down and pound out that novel. 

Here’s what I mean:

  • Can’t afford everything in those Pottery Barn catalogs that clog your mailbox?  No problem.  Clip the things you like best and use them for worldbuilding your next (or current) project.  Likewise for the Hammacher Schlemmer catalogs…so you don’t really need an ultra-sonic foot massager?  Maybe your protagonist does. 
  • Add some savory details to your work-in-progress by using descriptions from common household spices.  “Her coat was the color of crushed red pepper/ground cinnamon.” …The cold creamy spice of a glass of eggnog…how about describing the taste of those German potato pancakes? 
  • Likewise, you can tap into your natural environment:  What does it smell like when you stop at a roadside tree lot?  Take a jaunt to the Wisconsin/Michigan/Minnesota woods to chop down your Christmas tree?  Can you use that in your work?  How about describing the stench and impatience of sweaty bodies in a crowded post office? 
  • Evesdrop on anyone and everyone.  At the grocery store check-out line, at the bank, at the mall.   You will be amazed at what you can weave into your novel…here are a few of my recent favorites:  “I can feel my arteries clogging just from smelling all of the butter in this place.”  …. “Do you know that when you cry tears of sorrow, your body actually releases toxins not found in tears of joy or happiness?”…. “You may have some pent-up emotional energy in your neck or shoulders…when you get a massage, you should scream and let it all out…you may feel better emtionally and physically.” 
  • If you read children’s holiday books aloud to your children/students, take notice as to how the author works with words.  Is there a fun rhythm or cadence you can emulate in  your own work?  How does the author show emotion?  Can you borrow one of the character’s names for your own character?  Holiday songs can work in this same manner.  “Oh the weather outside is frightful…” [okay, not a good opening line for a book, but you get the idea]  Books (image source: http://www.scjohnson.com/en/family/family-economics/post.aspx?date=10-11-15&title=Christmas-Book-Collecting)
  • Really strapped for time?  Seems all you can muster at your computer is a glimpse at Facebook or Pinterest?  Keep track of what you like and find.  Today’s idea: crafting a Christmas tree out of a stack of books.  Wrap a few strings of lights around them and bingo-presto!!–a display for your bookstore-owning protagonist, whose store is aptly named after her children, Reid and Paige.  (Yep, that is an idea of mine for a future novel…just haven’t figured out the conflict yet). 
  • Watch those cheesy holiday movies, television specials, and televised events like parades and choirs.  It’s good research if you, say need a wholesome Hallmark moment to depict, or have never been to the St. Olaf Christmas Choir.  Larger view (image source: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/03/17/regional-spotlight-st-olaf-choir/)
  • Go see “The Nutcracker” or “A Christmas Carol” on the stage.   How do the characters dress?  Can you recreate something similar in your novel?  The glimmer of her pink organza tutu may show up in your mystery.  You never know.
  • When all else fails, make sure you are reading.  You may not be as voracious as usual, but keep a book with you at all times.  The good writing will park itself into your subconscious, breeding little words for when it is time to sit down at your computer and do some serious writing. 

In the meantime, Write on Wedenesday!

Fiction Friday: Work-in-Progress from “Slippery Slope”

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By Leslie Lindsay

 

Friday’s around here are sort of a “rotating” theme.  It may be that they revolve around a season, upcoming holiday, kids’ decorating/party planning, etc.  Which is all fine and dandy, but I need to focus more on my fiction writing. 

Sooo…that means that every Friday I plan to post a little blurb from my current fiction project.  You can comment on what you like, what you don’t, suggestions for improvements, twists, etc.  I’d love your feedback.  Are you game?  Good.  Here goes:

[From work-in-progress, working title, “Slippery Slope.”  This is original work.  Do not borrow, use, or make your own.]

I park my van alongside the road and get out.  With shaky legs, I wander around the yard, dry patches of grass crunching under my feet.   I let myself into the backyard. Dogs bark and sprinklers sputter, watering the parched lawns.  I feel like an intruder, but somehow like I belong here, like I am laying stake to my claim. 

They are home, I can tell by the way the golden light flows out from the windows, the alternating pattern of the television—shining blue, white, and black images against the walls.

I peer inside, a quick glance.  No sign of Steve or Beth, just stuff.  A fleece jacket thrown over the couch, a plate with old, oozed-out rubbery cheese sits on the coffee table and shoes are scattered about the room.  

A neighbor approaches me, “Can I help you?”  He asks, friendly yet somehow concerned.

“Oh!”  I jumped, my cheeks warming, “Uh…I’m just a friend.”  I look down at my ensemble. Flannel pajama bottoms, clogs.  I attempt to walk around the front of the house, not to look like such the peeping Tom I am. 

“You live around here, then?”  He asks, cocking his baseball cap up on his forehead.  “Haven’t seen you around before.”

“Yeah…well, I am an old friend.  A very old friend.  “Steve and Beth…they asked me to stop by while they were away.”

He nodded, a smirk spreading across his face, “Well, they’re home, not gone that I know of.   I just saw Steve come in from a bike ride awhile ago.” 

The pit of my stomach drops a bit at the mention of his name. 

I nod, my throat closing in on me, small beads of perspiration forming on my hairline.  I reach up and feel for my stitches.  “I must have gotten my weekends mixed up….”

Gosh, I feel like an idiot!  

“What’s the date?” 

The neighbor shoves his hands in his pocket, and withdraws a cell phone.  Tapping it to life, he reads, “uh…the 14th.” 

I tilt my head on the side, “Oh, silly me,” I force a smile.  “It’s really not till next weekend that they wanted me to check up on the house.” 

Smiling and nodding to the neighbor, I continue walking towards the front of the house, heading to my van. 

He glares at me, albeit a bit suspiciously but trails off to his own home.  I glance back at him over my shoulder, a wave of relief rushes over me. 

I proceed closer to my van.  Bold, brazen and uncaring, as if propelled by a force other than my own, my legs carry me to the front porch of Steve’s home. 

That’s all for now…thoughts?  Ideas?  Feelings?  What did you like/not like?  What should happen next?  Welcoming all comments.