Progress Report 2-5-18

It’s February! Holy cats, it already feels like the year is flying by.

Here are my February goals:

  • Keep writing every day. I’m tracking my actual word count this month. I’ve already had some days where I get a lot done, and days where I stare blankly at my screen for a while.
  • Work on querying. I’m sending a handful of queries each week. I’ve gotten one partial request, and a handful of rejections, so it’s happening!
  • Read a book! I’ve picked David Sedaris’s Theft by Finding, and I need to get around to putting it in my bag so that I have it with me when I have time to read.
  • House purchase. Gotta keep up the momentum on getting my house together.

I’m excited to keep going this month.

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Off -Camera

One of my favorite things to do when I’m a bit stuck in a piece is to write a scene that takes place off-camera, usually because my narrator isn’t there. Back when I first started writing (when I was thirteen!), I had rotating narrators in most of my pieces. It let me tell every part of the story every time. Now that I’m settling into writing one narrator per piece (first person narration, for what it’s worth), I find that I miss some of the stories that don’t get told.

Here’s a little bit of a scene from one of the Waiting Game books. David and Deane, just spending some time together. Which won’t show up in the book, because it isn’t the one he narrates.

 

“I’m sorry.”

Deane paused. “I know you are, David. It’s alright.”

“It’s not. I was being cruel. I was lashing out at you so that I’m not the only one hurting.”

“I know.”

“I’ve missed you so much.”

“I’ve missed you too.”

“I wish you’d come back.”

“So you can talk to me like that more often?”

“So we can be together like we’re supposed to be.”

“We can’t do that.”

“I know.” We stared at each other, and it was all I could do not to wrap her in my arms. “Where are you staying?”

“Here.”

“What room, I mean.”

“Oh. The blue one up on the third floor.”

“Are you okay being up there by yourself? The rest of us are on the second floor.”

“There’s no room for me on the second floor. I’ll be fine.”

“Stay with me.”

She paused. “I…don’t know.”

“I know what this is, Deane. I know what happens in a few days when it’s time for you to go home. Stay with me.”

“I wish things were different, David.”

“Maybe someday.” She turned toward the stairs. “Is that a no?” I asked.

“I need my things.”

“I already brought them down.”

She turned back to me. “Optimistic, are we?”

“Hopelessly so, yes.”

Now I did pull her against me, and she fit in the way she had so many times before. I soaked up the feel of her, the smell, all the things I wouldn’t be able to have in a few more days.

“I love you,” Deane said softly.

“I love you too. Every day, no matter what I say to you,” I replied.

“I wish I could be better for you.”

“Ditto. And you continue to be perfect for me.”

“Whenever I have a string of good days, I start thinking that I can come back. And once I start believing that, the good days stop.”

I rubbed her arms, wishing I could do more to comfort her. “I’m sorry. And I’m sorry I’m so awful to you.”

“You aren’t awful. You’re doing exactly what we both need you to do.”

“I don’t think it’s helping.”

“No, not really.” She pulled back and took my hand. “Show me your room.”

 

The Waiting Game, Part 1

I’ve decided to post the first chapter of each of the four Waiting Game books this month, one per week. So here’s Chapter One of Book One.

Chapter One

I heaved a sigh as I dropped my bags on the living room floor. It had been a long day of cross-country travel. After I got fed up with visiting my mom and stepdad in San Francisco, I’d finagled an earlier flight, ready to get away from the familial infighting. I was glad to be back in Washington, D.C., ready to get back to my normal life. It had been the kind of family time that left someone glad to return to work.

My fiancé too, I was glad to return to him. It wasn’t often that Kyle Spencer and I spent more than a day apart, let alone nearly a week. And I had just enough time to shower and change before he’d be home from work.

I kicked my shoes off in the hall. As I pushed open the bedroom door, I pulled my sweatshirt over my head. My head popped free with a jerk, I was left staring at my bed, the bed I shared with the man I was going to marry.

And the bare back of a slim woman with cascading brown curls as she bounced up and down. She let out a moan as she moved, and I wrenched my shirt back over my head, preparing for the battle I knew was coming.

I could hear Kyle now, the familiar noises that he’d made so many times with me. I still couldn’t see him, trapped, as he was, under the bouncing brunette. I was shaking, stunned, and I couldn’t even think of what to do with myself. I stood, listening to them, watching the girl writhe on top of my fiancé. My mouth hung open, and tears streamed down my cheeks.

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I turned to go back to the living room, either to wait them out or to figure out somewhere else to go.

I shook my head, and turned back to the bed.

“Excuse me.”

They both gasped, and the brunette gathered the blankets around her as she slid from on top of my fiancé. Kyle jerked upright, his green eyes wide at the sight of me, his blonde hair disheveled, his face and chest flushed.

“Alex. You’re home early.”

His voice was calm, even. As if he hadn’t just ruined my life.

“I am,” I replied, trying to also keep my voice calm. I didn’t want to come off like the crazy girlfriend.

“I can explain.”

“I don’t think you can.”

“I should go,” the brunette said.

“No, you’re welcome to stay,” I replied. “I’m going to go.”

“Can we talk?” Kyle asked.

“Are you serious?”

“Yes.”

“No, you asshole, we can’t talk. I need to leave, before I murder you and your whore.”

“Right. Okay. Another time.”

“You think I’m joking.”

“Not exactly, no. I’m hoping I can calm you down before anyone gets hurt.”

I’m hurt, Kyle.” I held his gaze, then shook my head slowly. “I’m going.”

I was gathering up my bags in the hall when I realized I was still wearing the massive lie of a diamond ring that he’d given me. Well, that wasn’t coming with me.

I went into the bedroom, where Kyle and his girl were hastily dressing, not looking at or talking to each other.

“This is yours,” I said, heaving the ring at him. It hit his bare chest, and he winced, whether from pain or the gesture itself I didn’t care. Kyle and I locked eyes as the sound of the ring bouncing on the hardwood floor filled the room. Such a small sound that meant so much. Once the ring stopped moving, the silence became too much, and I turned on my heel.

All right. I’m out of here.

 

“He was in bed with some bimbo,” I sobbed as my best friend handed me a box of tissues.

“Are you sure she was a bimbo?”

“David!”

“I’m trying to cheer you up,” he replied. “Go on.”

“I’m not sure there’s any more to the story.”

“What about the part where you murder them both, and then come to me for help hiding the bodies?”

“That didn’t happen.”

“Why not?”

“We were supposed to get married,” I wailed, tears streaming down my face. “How could he do this to me?”

“Did you ask him?”

“How was I supposed to talk to him? He was in bed with–”

“Some bimbo, right.”

“Can I stay here?”

“What?”

I’d immediately done what anyone would do in a crisis: run to my best friend’s house to cry on his shoulder. After much crying, I’d realized that I was in a tricky situation. I couldn’t go home again. Kyle and I had been living together for over a year. I couldn’t go back to that house now, not after seeing him with, you know, some bimbo. I needed a place to stay. And getting my ducks in a row to make that happen was going to take some time.

“Just while I figure out where to go,” I said, pleading with my already red and teary eyes. “I can’t go back to Kyle. I don’t have anywhere else to go. Please, David.”

“Like for a few weeks, or like forever?”

“Forever?”

“No.”

“Ugh, fine, for a few weeks. I’ll start looking for a new place tomorrow, I swear it.”

“Weird how I don’t think that’s true.”

“So you want me to go back to living with Kyle?”

“Jesus, no. But you can’t live here forever.”

“Afraid I’ll cramp your style?”

“What little style I have, yes.”

I put my head in my hands and began crying anew. How could this have happened? What had I done wrong that Kyle had done this to me?

“Of course you can stay here,” David said. “As long as you need, but do not take advantage of me on that.”

“What am I supposed to do now?”

“I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out.”

“Promise me that you’re not dying to say you told me so.”

David laughed. “A little bit, yeah. You know I’ve never liked Kyle.”

Kyle and I started dating in high school, so we’d already been together for three years by the time I met David Yearly when we were in college. David and I hit it off immediately – but only as friends! Because I was already in a relationship, it had never occurred to me to think of him as anything else. Kyle had never seen it that way, though, and the two of them had bickered back and forth for years now.

They were such opposites, David and Kyle. Kyle was blonde and excessively tall, and smarter than average. David was…kind of nerdy. He had dark hair and glasses, and couldn’t seem to talk to girls without embarrassing himself. It was endearing, but it didn’t exactly set my loins on fire. And for some reason, I could never convince Kyle of that.

Kyle always seemed to find a way to throw backhanded comments David’s way, and it hadn’t exactly made him likeable. But I’d always made excuses for Kyle. Of course he didn’t like that I spent a lot of time with another guy! It made sense, even if nothing was ever going to happen with David. Now I was seeing that perhaps Kyle wasn’t the person I thought he was. I should have turned on him years ago.

Of course, it wasn’t the same. Being territorial wasn’t cheating on the person you were supposed to marry.

“I never liked him,” David repeated. “But I also never thought he’d do something like this. I’m as shocked as you are.”

“That’s impossible. You didn’t have to see them.”

“Why didn’t you tell him that you were coming home early?”

“Because surprises are supposed to be fun, David. And might I add, way to blame the victim.”

“I think we’d all like to spare you having to see that. I’m sure it only makes this whole thing worse.”

It certainly did. If I closed my eyes, I saw them together. I could hear their moans ringing in my ears still. Oh, God, I was going to be sick.

I bolted down the hall, stumbling for the bathroom, willing myself not to puke on my best friend’s floor. He was going above and beyond right now, and I owed him that much.

David followed me at a slower pace, and as I knelt beside the toilet, he knelt beside me, gathering my hair back in classic best friend mode. Tears streamed down my face as I puked, and I felt like I couldn’t control anything that was happening with my body. I’d lost control of my life, and now I’d lost control of my body.

This was shaping up to be a great day.

Progress Report 1-29-18

I’ve begun querying agents again (y’all, this is NOT fun). I have gotten a partial request, so at least something’s happening, but I am definitely in the early days. A few rejections, a lot of waiting.

I’ve written every day in January so far, and am trying to keep up that momentum. One of my February goals is finishing up the second Waiting Game book, so I’m doing bits and pieces on that for now.

I’m looking forward to a new month, and getting more exciting things done.

Progress Report 1-22-18

Last week was a rough one. Like much of the northeast, we got a bit of snow, which means my kids were home a lot more than usual, and I was home more than usual. Luckily, this week we are (hopefully!) back in our routine.

As far as my goals for the month….I’m done!

This is why I went with some small, easy goals this month, but here’s the final check in.

  • I finished my edits on Cycling! I went through everything my editor sent, and then I read through everything again to make sure things still made sense and flowed well. This means I’m officially back to querying, which means I’m constantly refreshing my email tab. Not really, but I am definitely stressed about that already.
  • I finished reading Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts. What an amazing book! Definitely one of those books that you finish and can’t stop thinking about. It was such a sad book, for so many reasons, and scary and fun.
  • My house purchase was beds for my kids, and we got them put together last weekend. Both kids are excited for the change in their rooms. I’m hoping it will encourage my toddler to sleep in her own room more.

I’m excited to figure out my goals for next month.

Progress Report 1-8-18

I’m making steady progress on my January goals!

  • I’ve gotten through about 1/3 of the Cycling edits (word/page count-wise. Based on her comments, about 1/2). The other day I flagged my editors comments into three categories: quick fixes (typos, or places where I’d need to toss in, say, a dialogue tag or an extra sentence), spots to ponder (places where I needed to expand quite a bit, or consider serious changes), and compliments (places where she’d noted that I’d done a particularly good job or, like the one I can see right now, simply “Ha!”). It’s made getting things done a bit easier, as I can skip around and fix the little things when I’m short on time, and spend a bit more time with it when I get lucky and my toddler goes to bed early.
  • I’m also about 1/3 of the way through reading A Head Full of Ghosts. It’s hard to say that I’m enjoying it, even though I like the book. It’s a horror story, so it isn’t particularly pleasant, but it’s a great read.
  • I ordered some new furniture for the house, some things we needed, rather than filler pieces. I’m excited to see things come together a bit more.

Hoping to keep up the momentum!

#tbt – The Waiting Game

I’ve been writing the characters from The Waiting Game since 1996, when I first dreamed them up. Fourteen-year-old me wasn’t very good at it, of course, so the story has remained much the same, but every so often I age up the characters and retool the details. So for this #tbt, I’ve got a scene I wrote for the college-aged versions of the characters, when Alex and Kyle first discussed her relationship with Noel, and what that meant for their future.

Kyle dropped his voice. “Alex. Could I talk to you alone for a minute?”

            “Absolutely.” I turned to David. “I’ll be right back.”

“Don’t leave me,” he said, but I was already walking away, following Kyle to his office.

“You seem well,” Kyle said, sitting on the edge of his desk.

“I am well, Kyle.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“Thanks.”

He paused, a slight frown creasing his brow. “I don’t know how to ask this.”

“Then you probably shouldn’t.”

“You’re still seeing that guy?”

“Well, the last time we talked, I wasn’t seeing him, so. Uh, yes, I’m seeing Noel now.”

“How’s that going?”

“Really well, thanks. I like him a lot, and he makes me happy. I’m trying to ignore things like that he’s graduating in May, but we’re working on figuring that out.”

“You seem much better than the last time I saw you.”

“I am.”

“I wasn’t expecting that.”

“It was bound to happen, Kyle.”

“I know.”

“Are you okay?”

“Probably. You’re not my girlfriend. You’re allowed to date whoever you want. You’re allowed to be happy.”

“I am.”

“I’m not saying that I was hoping you’d be sad forever. I’m glad to see you happy.”

“That’s good to know.”

“I had hoped that I’d—”

“We should head back to the party.”

“Saving me from myself?”

“Someone has to.”

“Thanks. How’s David?”

“He is really good as well. You should ask him. I always like seeing you two getting along.”

“I’m sorry we never have.”

“I know.”

“He and Noel get along okay?”

“They get along great, yeah.”

“Neither one is jealous of the other?”

“Well. David and I had a year when neither of us was seeing someone, and we didn’t go out then. I don’t think anyone’s worried that we’re going to go out now that we’re both in relationships.”

“David has a girlfriend?”

“I told you he was really good.”

“Good for him.”

“Everyone’s doing well, which is kind of shocking, I know.”

“Well. Not everyone.”

I cocked my head. “What’s up?”

“Nothing.”

“You had to know that this might happen, Kyle.”

“I’d always let myself believe that things would be okay with us again.”

“Things are okay with us. You mean that you expected to get back together.”

“Something like that, yes.”

“It’s a nice thought. Right now I’m seeing someone else.”

“I’ve heard.”

“You’d like Noel.”

“That’s wishful thinking.”

I shrugged. “Okay, evidence has shown that you don’t tend to like the other men in my life. I guess I should say that Noel would like you.”

“Well, what’s not to like about me?”

“It’s weird for me, talking to you like this, and for the first time that I can remember, I don’t feel like I used to.”

“That must be nice.”

“It was. Then I had to talk to you.”

“Well, at least you feel bad that you don’t love me anymore.”

“It’s for the best, Kyle.”

“I know.”

“Seriously, let’s go to this party. Tell me how work things are going. Ask David about his life.”

“I might just go home.”

“Don’t do that.” I took his hand, pulling him to his feet. “We’ve been friends before. We’re only doing that again.”

“It’s weird.”

“It will be for a little while, yeah.”

“Your boyfriend isn’t here, is he?”

“No, he went home for the holidays.”

“Well, that’s a relief.”

“David’s still here.”

“It’s like you don’t want me to be happy.”

“I want nothing more than for you to be happy, Kyle.”

“Well. Don’t talk to me about your boyfriend anymore.”

“He still exists.”

“Oh, believe me, I know.”

“You did this, Kyle.”

“I know I did, thanks.”

“As long as we’re clear.”

“Crystal.”

“Are you angry at me?”

“No.”

“Then what is this, Kyle?”

“I didn’t do what I did because I loved you any less.”

“We aren’t having this conversation. You and I are done, Kyle.”

I turned my back on him and returned to the party. I’d been doing so well, and he had to ruin everything, as usual. I was okay with getting along with him. I was okay with interacting with him. I was not okay with having a discussion about the time he cheated on me. We weren’t going to have that conversation now, and probably not ever. I wasn’t going to allow myself to hear his excuses.

I wasn’t going to forgive him. Just because I wasn’t in love with him anymore didn’t mean that I was ready to forgive what he’d done.