The Afghan #WritingChallenge


White afghan

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 46
Mid-way through NaNoWriMo2017 — YES! – and this is another unedited excerpt from my project, Sacrificial Daughter.

She smiled standing in her friend’s room. It was one hundred percent Rosie Chastain, appearing light and delicate, but held up by a solid sturdy foundation.

The ninety-year-old high-back rocking chair still sat in the corner. Made from thick oak by Rosie’s Uncle Preston, with pale pink cushions hand-sewn by his wife, Delia, it was Rosie’s special place. Whenever she had to sit and think about something, pray over something or someone, or collect her thoughts after a bad day, Rosie sat in the rocker.

Ana ran her hand over the smooth, glossy wood.

Next to the rocker was a massive nine-drawer dresser. Ana wasn’t sure what tree the dresser’s wood came from, but she remembered hearing workmen swear at the dresser’s weight when Rosie bought new carpeting and it had to be moved.

She opened drawers, not surprised at the order and neatness. Ana walked into the closet and was overwhelmed with memories of Rosie. The scent of the light jasmine and amber cologne Rosie loved was still in the air. Nurse’s uniforms, surgical scrubs, and lab coats took up a full third of the closet. Ana looked through the dress clothes, smiling at her friend’s love of silk.

She walked out of the closet and stood next to the large four-poster bed. Like the dresser, the bed was made from real wood and took four men to move it.

Sitting on the side of the bed, Analeigh buried her face in her hands.

Rosie was gone and now she had to get rid of these precious things.

How?

Jeff told her to leave anything she didn’t want in the house and the auction company would include it in their inventory and sale.

Ana didn’t think she could part with the bedroom furniture. She had no space for it in her modest two-bedroom condo back in Columbus, but these were the pieces Rosie loved and cherished most and they were important to Ana too. She would find premium movers and storage until she made decisions about her future.

Ana reached for her notepad and realized it was on the kitchen counter.

Headed for the kitchen, Ana stopped when she saw something behind the bedroom door. She closed the door to find a dark leather ottoman. It was large and square… and Ana had never seen it before.

Rosie must have bought it after Ana left Corwin.

She knelt for a closer look and saw the tiny brass hinges. Ana raised the ottoman’s lid and clutched her chest with a raspy gasp.

Her eyes filled with tears as she reached into the ottoman to retrieve the treasure.

Sitting on the floor, Ana hugged the one hundred percent Merino wool afghan. She rubbed her chin and cheek against it, incredulous it was still as baby soft as the day she and Rosie completed it.

 ~ ~ ~
Ana made a few bracelets and necklaces, but she never had the patience for jewelry making and working with crystal the way Rosie did. She had no passion for it. When a friend told Rosie about loop knitting and arm knitting, she thought they might be something Ana would enjoy, and it was a creative endeavor.

She was right.

Ana was thrilled when Rosie presented her with the bulky snow-white yarn. She watched the accompanying video four times over two days before she would even consider beginning her project.

On the third day, Rosie laughed as a giddy Ana dumped the first bag of yarn on the dining room table.

A small piece of paper clung to one of the skeins. Ana picked it up and read it. Her mouth gaped open as she backed away from the table.

“What’s wrong, Analeigh?”

Shaking her head, Ana opened her mouth to speak but the words didn’t come.

“Analeigh? What’s wrong, honey? You okay?”

Rosie took a step towards her, but Ana threw up her hands, the slip of paper clutched in her fist.

“You spent almost five-hundred dollars on yarn? For me? Rosie that’s crazy. You have to take it back.”

“Is that what has you so upset? The cost of the yarn?” Rosie waved her off. “The cost is not important, sweetie. The look in your eyes and the smile on your face is what matters. The sense of accomplishment you’ll have at trying something new… being creative, that’s how we grow. Accepting challenges. Now, calm down and let’s get-”

“No, Rosie. You have to take it back.”

“Stop talking nonsense, child. I’ll do no such thing. And haven’t I taught you it is rude to refuse a gift?”

Ana walked over to Rosie, lifted one of her hands and placed the receipt in it.

“Yes, you did, Rosie, but this is too much. I’m not worth it.”

Rage erupted in Rosie and her tawny brown skin glowed as heat suffused her body. She crumpled the receipt in her hand and stalked around the table. Her arms flailed, and her gaze darted around the room.

Analeigh Sellers took a step back, afraid Rosie would send her away and not be her friend anymore.

“I’m sorry, Rosie.”

The wiry old woman rushed to Ana, grabbing and clutching her to her chest.

The teen didn’t understand, but held on, not wanting to be sent away. When Rosie pulled back, Ana saw her face was wet with tears.

“What’s wrong, Rosie?”

She smoothed Ana’s hair down and cupped her cheeks in her hands.

“Some folks think the worst way to hurt a child is physically… beat on them, smack them around. But, sweetie, what’s been done to you is just as bad… worse in some ways.”

“I don’t understand.”

Rosie Chastain tilted her head toward the table.

“Child, if I spent ten-thousand-dollars on that yarn it was worth it to me to see you smile because you are worth it. You are important to me. You matter.”

Ana opened her mouth to argue, but Rosie stopped her.

“You can’t put a price on people, Analeigh, everyone has value. Everyone matters because they are here… alive. There isn’t one of us who is better or more worthy than anyone else. I know that to be true. I’ve seen a lot in almost seventy years on this earth, but I’ve never come across a person who was better than anyone else.”

Pain mixed with the confusion on Ana’s face and she looked away.

Rosie gently turned her head back to see her eyes.

“Child, I could tell you how special and worthy you are all day long, but it don’t mean nothing if you don’t believe it yourself.”

~ ~ ~

Ana wiped her eyes remembering that day. It took a little more time, but she soon learned to walk with her head held high. Because of Rosie Chastain.

~ ~ ~
For the next three weeks, Ana stopped by after school every afternoon, and she and Rosie worked on the afghan together. Methodically matching loops and rows.

On the last day, Ana locked the final stitch and the women complimented each other as they admired their handiwork.

“We’re pretty good, huh?”

“Child, you could sell this for twice what the yarn cost.”

“No way. I’ll never sell it.”

“Does my old heart good to hear that.”

Rosie ran her hand over the blanket.

“Just a month ago, this was piles of yarn, no shape or form, sitting on the store shelves waiting to be purchased. I bought the yarn and you, Analeigh, studied the process. You decided on a pattern and we worked together, keeping the blanket uniform…no loose ends. And now we have this beautiful creation.”

Ana admired her handiwork until she realized Rosie stopped speaking. She glanced in her direction only to find Rosie’s eyes locked on her.

“This blanket is you, Analeigh.”

Ana’s brow knitted in confusion.

“Your young life here… in this town, was just a pile of loose ends. No one tried to give you structure and guidance. They just grabbed a loose end and pulled. But you’re growing into a beautiful young woman and forging your own structure without anyone’s guidance. You’ve got the pattern, Analeigh, time to make your own creation.”

“If I did any of those things, Rosie, it’s because of you.”

“Oh, no, child. I was the shelter from the storm. We all need one sometimes, and we all act as one. You’ll be someone’s shelter one day too so they can have the opportunity to figure it all out. That’s all I did for you.”

“No, Rosie… it’s not. You gave me structure and guidance. And love. And Rosie you saved my life.”

Ana gathered the ends of the snow-white afghan and placed them in Rosie’s hands.

“That’s why I want you to have this.”

~ ~ ~
Ana closed the lid on the ottoman.
Rosie Chastain broke down in tears that day. Ana knew the spry senior citizen was fond of her, but she’d always felt Rosie acted more out of pity. A sense of dread stayed nestled close to her heart, fearing the day would come Rosie would no longer consider Analeigh worthy of her time.

The bond between the two friends was cemented that day. Ana knew she would leave Corwin and its suffocating judgment behind. Leaving Rosie Chastain wasn’t an option.

 

©Felicia Denise 2017
Image by jdurham

NaNo Diaries: POV #NaNoWriMo2017


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POV (point of view).

It can be a struggle, especially for authors still trying to find their ‘voice’… like me.

First person POV or alternating POVs among lead characters seem to be the standard or preferred. I read them, but I prefer Third Person Close because I like to know what everyone is thinking, not what someone assumes they’re thinking.

I’ve read books where I loved the second lead, all the BFFs, the parents, nosy neighbors… even the antagonist.

But the lead hero/heroine/protagonist?

Just wanted to push them into oncoming traffic.

And this character that I’ve come to loathe gets to tell me their story their way.

Meh.

Flip the script and  I cringe re-reading things I’ve written… the head-hopping is epic. It’s a fine line, and a struggle—writing that person, that character who gets to tell the whole story… as it relates to them.

And, make them interesting, likable, and flawed so at the very least readers won’t want to push them into oncoming traffic.

I give my characters a lot of room to tell their story.

But if I get annoyed… I’ll kill them off myself.

 

NaNoWriMo Day 11 word count – 1885

Total – 21,777 / 50,000

 

Keep Writing!

Retta #WritingChallenge


Woman in the Mirror


52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 45
This is another unedited excerpt from my 2017 project, Sacrificial Daughter.

She brushed her long, dark, tresses without thought, mesmerized by own her gaze.

The dark brown eyes, once vibrant and alluring, were now dull and lifeless, witnesses to her lifetime of abuse and excess.

The lines that only appeared around her eyes when she laughed were now permanent fixtures her best makeup couldn’t conceal.

To be seen, her thin lips needed the deep red lipstick tones she favored, or she always appeared cross and sullen.

At fifty-seven-years of age, Margaretta Marie Sellers was still an attractive woman.

But she no longer met her own standard of beauty.

Retta’s looks made her stand out among her contemporaries, which was a point of contention for more than three decades.

But it wasn’t enough for Retta. She wanted to be a standout, regardless of age.

She wanted… needed to be admired and envied by younger women.

Retta wanted to be an icon.

That desire was her downfall.

Blessed with a perfect mezzo-soprano voice, Retta longed to perform in the spotlight like her idols, Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price.

While her parents, Mae and Albert Sellers had the means to finance a music education for their daughter, neither thought it a practical career and pushed Retta towards a business or teaching degree.

Headstrong and determined, seventeen-year-old Retta ran away to find her destiny.

All the sheltered, naive teen found instead were men with little interest in her natural vocal talent and more interest in her shapely, young body and exotic looks.

With promises of fame and lucrative contracts, Retta bounced from party to party on the arm of different men who plied her with alcohol and drugs.

Less than three years after leaving home, Retta returned an alcoholic junkie.

Albert Sellers rushed his baby girl into rehab.

Mae was less welcoming and had little to do with her daughter. During Retta’s absence, her younger brother, sixteen-year-old Joseph, succumbed to rheumatic fever. Mae was devastated. Her gifted and studious son had a bright future ahead of him before illness took him. Yet, her selfish, narcissistic daughter ruined her voice and her life abusing anything she could get her hands on and she still lived… and manipulated her father.

Albert tried to be the cushion between the two women but never got to see them reconcile.

A week before Retta was discharged from the rehab center, Mae dropped dead from a coronary embolism.

Retta came home drug-free and sober but her partying ways were still with her.

Craving the attention of men, Retta put her appearance first and abstained from liquor and drugs.

During a south side party for a local city commission candidate, Retta connected with her first love, Ham Burford.

Now a college graduate working for the city’s finance department, Hamilton Charles Burford fell in love with Retta Sellers when they were fifteen-years-old.

But despite the above average living Albert Sellers made from his co-op farming business, Ham’s parents considered Retta socially unacceptable and forbade Ham from seeing her.

The smitten couple sneak around and get together when they can, but after Retta learned her parents wouldn’t support her music career, she changed, becoming depressed and more withdrawn.

It was bad enough she’d never get a life with Ham, but to also not have a life in music was more than she could bear, and she left on a morning train bound for Chicago.

Now they were both back in Corwin, but any dreams Retta had about being with her first love were snatched away when Ham introduced Retta to Belinda Foley, his fiancé.

Retta Sellers has no time to mourn her broken heart when Albert is injured in a farming accident and dies two days later.

The sole survivor of her family, Retta feels cheated by life and closes off her heart.

She continues to stare at her reflection, her jaws tight and as hard as her heart.

Her hand shakes as she lowers the brush. Her chest burns with anger for the betrayals by those closest to her.

The man she loved.

And the daughter she didn’t.

Retta launched the brush into the mirror, not bothering to shield her face or body from the glass shards.

Satisfied, she stood and left the room.

©Felicia Denise 2017

NaNo Diaries: Week 2 #NaNoWriMo2017


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It’s week two of NaNoWriMo2017.

Confidences are a bit shaky,

Doubt creeps in,

And November 30th looks a LONG way away.

I’m not worried about finishing, I’m just curious what the ‘finished’ product will look like.

The outline has already undergone drastic changes, and all I’ve done is write (and make notes).

The plot has not changed, but alliances, truths, and scenes have.

I’m intrigued! 😀

Time to get to today’s word count. Emotions are about to flare, and evil will drop by.

And I’ll probably change something. 😀

I’m about 4K ahead on word count and was considering slowing down… until a member of my Tucson-Nano group crossed the 51K mark.

Today.

On the NINTH day of the challenge.

mind blown

Day 8 word count -1801

Total – 16262/50000

 

Keep writing!

NaNo Diaries: Changes #NaNoWriMo


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Changes.

Every MS goes through them, especially in the editing phase.

I chatted with an author a couple of years ago who planned every aspect of her book, right down to the dialogue.

Everything.

Other than spelling and grammar, there were no changes.

I was in awe.

I have no clue what a book’s title will be until I reach midpoint in writing… mostly.

But this ultra-author knew in advance what her characters would do and say, plot twists, and the ending.

That’s an amazing superpower to have.

Yet, I don’t think it’s one I want.

As a character-driven writer, the voices in my head trip me up almost daily when I began a new MS.

Saturday, Day 4 of NaNoWriMo, two in-the-moment-characters stole scenes. And they were good.

Yesterday, Day 6 of NaNoWriMo, the protagonist took a walk into existentialism.

Wait, what?

It wasn’t planned, but it fit.

Will it stay? I doubt it.

But it did give me an idea for another WIP.

So, after six days of NaNo, I have nine scenes and 12K+ words written, FIVE pages of CHANGES, and an outline for a new WIP.

Didn’t see that coming.

Maybe it’s a different superpower.

Morpheus_Nano


NaNoWriMo Day 6 word count – 2037

Total – 12503/50000

Keep writing!

Nano Diaries: It Happened Again! #NaNoWriMo2017


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I knew it would happen. It always does, just not quite so early into NaNo.

My prep work included five characters:

The protagonist and her boyfriend,

The protagonist’s mother (the antagonist) and her lover,

The protagonist’s mentor.

There are a handful of tertiary characters necessary to move the story along, but nothing more.

The gruff, veteran chopper pilot was only supposed to give the heroine a ride to the commercial airport, but that was just too easy.

The second she’s in the chopper, I become possessed by a fictional character!

He takes over the scene spouting truths and wisdom which actually helped my heroine. I’m doing the typing, but a character I know nothing about is doing the talking. Weird. But, I let the dialogue stand… for now, and I got her out of that chopper!

She continues on her journey to say goodbye to a friend and confront her past when it all overwhelms her.

Fortunately, there’s a strategically placed tourist stand for her to pull over and collect herself.

The grandmotherly owner, who’s a dead ringer for Betty White, is supposed to ring up the heroine’s purchase…nothing more, when BAM! I’m again possessed by a fictional character!

What the…?

But grandma Betty is good, delivering her own wisdom that actually helps and puts the heroine in the right frame of mind for what’s coming.

It’s times like this I wonder why I bother to plan at all.

I have no idea who will show up next, but why should I? I’m just the writer… the characters are the boss of me.

 

NaNoWriMo Day 4 word count – 3125

Total – 8669/50000

Keep Writing!