#WIP Update!

 


Happy Wednesday, everyone! Hope you’re enjoying your day and faring much better than I am.

2018 started out with an easy flow, but I…-

Hears a noise.

…but I seem…-

Hears the noise again. Looks around and see no one

As I was saying, the year began pretty good…

Hears noise again. Sounds like someone clearing their throat. Turns around to find Olivia Chandler lying prone on the floor.

FD: Hello, Olivia.

OC: Olivia sighs.

FD: Is something wrong, Counselor?

OC: It’s… It’s February 28th.

FD: Yes, I know.

OC: You were supposed to release Family Matters today.

FD: Yes, I know.

OC: But you’re not.

FD: No, I’m not.

OC: But why not? It’s been edited, revised and edited again.

FD: Because I had to rewrite it.

OC: What the hell?

FD: Calm down.

OC: How could you rewrite it? Why didn’t I know? Why did you rewrite it?

FD: Anymore questions?

Olivia chuffs.

FD: I rewrote it because it wasn’t right. When life got crazy last summer, I should have put the book aside until I was focused, but I didn’t. You drifted, and I drifted… in two different directions.

OC: So, this is your fault?

FD: I wouldn’t go that far, Miss Thang.

OC: You cannot lay this at my feet.

FD: Well, you were the one going all Sybil and changing your personality in every scene.

OC: I was suffering from clinical depression. What’s your excuse?

FD: I was suffering from clinical depression.

OC: Oh. Are we okay now?

FD: You’ll be fine.

OC: And you?

FD: I’m a writer, Olivia. We’re all a bit mad.

OC: Oh, you are not.

FD: Olivia, I’m having a conversation with a fictional character.

OC: Well, there’s that.

Olivia giggles.

Felicia frowns.

OC: So, uh… the release date?

FD: I was about to blog about the delay, but discuss how I was formatting the MS before you-

OC: …interrupted you.

FD: Basically.

OC: Okay, Felicia. You go on and finish that. Then we can talk about book 3.

FD: There is no book 3.

OC: Yes, there is.

FD: Olivia Chandler, I am done with you.

OC: No, you’re not.

FD: If you’re lucky, you’ll have a few appearances in Margot and Bishop’s story.

OC: Margot and Bishop? Margot and Bishop? Why do they get a story?

FD: Margot deserves it and she has a great story.

OC: Better than mine.

FD: Different from yours.

OC: Fine. I’ll wait.

FD: It could be a while.

OC: Have you even started their story?

FD: Nope.

OC: So, what’s the problem? Just squeeze me in.

FD: Nope.

OC: Oh, why not?

FD: Let’s see… two blogs, eleven outlines, 300K of words on paper, two Camp NaNos, November Nano, a 52-week writing challenge, I’m learning drabbles, practicing haikus, and the mister would like clean clothes and a few dinners during all this. And let’s not forget my friend who’s never far away… Fibrofog.

Olivia laughs.

OC: Yeah, you zone out and double up on the coffee and pun memes.

FD: It’s not funny.

OC: It’s kinda funny.

FD: Okay, it is funny. Are we done here?

OC: I’ll go. But, seriously, Felicia, I do have another good story. A meteor crashes in the parking lot just as I’m leaving work, and the radiation gives me superpowers and-

FD: OLIVIA!

OC: Okay, okay. I’ll work out the details. You’re going to love it. Cya!

Massages forehead.

Now I know why George R.R. Martin kills everyone.

FM Choice

Dread


moon river


‘Calla’ continues with another unedited excerpt.

Exiting the banquet hall Calla smiled, reinvigorated by the sweet scents of spring carried on the night air from nearby Golds Lake.

The clouds carrying the rain Tena feared would ruin her wedding day, at last, gathered in the late evening sky but even their dreary darkness couldn’t hide the brilliance of the full moon.

Gazing toward the lake stirred feelings of wanderlust in Calla.

Though small and not a true lake, the body of water was just one of many tributaries winding its way through the small towns of eastern Missouri to join with the mighty Mississippi River a couple of hours away.

Even the water was going places.

Shaking her head, Calla clicked the release button on her car remote, opening the back hatch of her Chevy Equinox.

She’d stayed far longer at the reception than planned. But after Tena and Lloyd made their departure for their hotel and Tanya had to get her fussy two-year-old home, Calla felt obligated to pack up Tena’s personal items used before the ceremony and help Neeri oversee the hall’s cleanup.

Her mood darkened as she deposited garment bags and overnight cases into the large compartment.

Slamming the hatch with more force than needed, Calla stalked to the driver’s door, flung it open and launched herself into the vehicle with all the grace of The Hulk.

Exasperated, Calla slid down in the seat, burying her face in her hands.

Why do I allow this to bother me?

Most people look forward to going home, but the thought of it is bringing on a migraine.

No longer avoiding the inevitable, Calla flipped open the center glove box, took out her cell phone and turned it on.

An array of musical tones and beeps played for a full minute while messages loaded. Swiping the screen, Calla knew the nine most recent texts were sent from Mavis’ phone, candid shots of the bridesmaids during the reception.

Ignoring the rest of her notifications, Calla opened the reception photos, her good mood returning with the first photo.

All five of the bridesmaids were grouped together around Lloyd with stern faces and clenched fists, as if to say, “Hurt Tena and we’re coming for you!” The goofy grin on Lloyd Taylor’s face proved the photo was in jest… especially since Tena photo-bombed the shot doubled over in laughter.

A photo of Calla and Tena tugged at Calla’s heart. Her lifelong friend had been there for Calla through everything, good and bad. The two women had never had a single argument. They each had a way of speaking truths the other didn’t always want to hear, without judgment or meanness.

Happy for her friend, Calla would miss their girl-time together. After a three-week honeymoon with stops in Vegas and Hawaii, the Taylors would return home and to work.

Tena promised a girls-night out the week she returned, but Calla knew better. Newlyweds only had time for each other, and that was the way it should be. Both thirty-four, Calla also knew her friends wouldn’t waste any time starting a family.

The joy in Tena’s face made her smile. She got her happily ever after.

Studying herself next to Tena, Calla wasn’t sure what she saw.

Large, dark ringlets left out of her formal up-do hung down the side of her full, cherubic face. Her maid of honor dress was the same pale straw shade of gold as the other bridesmaids, but Calla’s dress didn’t have an empire waist or sweetheart neckline. Instead, Calla’s dress hung from her shoulders and cinched to one side, showing off her full, hourglass figure while the color made her smooth honey brown skin glow.

She looked good.

Calla also looked happy, which she was… for Tena. But a closer, more thorough inspection would find the sadness in her eyes.

She tossed the phone into the passenger seat and massaged her lower abdomen.

The slow burn she’d ignored for most of the evening was making itself known again, searing a feverish path across Calla’s stomach.

She had only herself to blame.

The peptic ulcer was all but gone after weeks of bland foods and Calla’s rock-solid determination to not allow things to upset her, but the champagne and rich foods of the wedding reception found their way to the weak, still open areas of the ulcer and went to work.

The pain wasn’t easing up and Calla had no antacid with her, so she started the car and headed home… to the cause of the ulcer.

 

©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Retta


Woman in the Mirror


This is unedited excerpt from my 2017 NaNoWriMo 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 which used to appear 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.

©2017 Felicia Denise

Good Morning, Mother

Breakfast Tray

A scene from an ongoing WIP. Much to the horror of her family, Quinn Landon has filed for divorce from her adulterous husband. Her family doesn’t miss an opportunity to bully and berate her for ending a “sacred” union, and the number one bully is her mother.


Rejuvenated after a good night’s sleep, Quinn danced around the kitchen to her favorite playlist while making herself a quick breakfast.

Today was the end of the work-week for Phero’s staff since Friday was a company holiday—the founder’s birthday.

Ronan Gaetan decided if countries could celebrate long-dead presidents, document signings, and wars, why couldn’t the company he started from the ground up celebrate his birthday as a paid holiday? For twenty-four years, Phero’s four sites in the U.S., Italy, and France honored their founder by not working on the date of his birth.

Quinn knew it was a concept American corporations would never embrace.

She planned to spend her day off at the Veteran’s Outreach Center. Quinn found volunteering there for the past five years personally rewarding, and it had given Quinn perspective.

Her current situation was not ideal, but helping others get back into the mainstream of living made Quinn realize how fortunate she was. Work kept her from volunteering for several weeks, and now she was anxious to reconnect with the men and women whose trust she’d earned.

Pouring her first cup of coffee, Quinn headed to her breakfast nook to go over her calendar for the day when her phone rang. Swearing under her breath, she reached for the cell, knowing only one person on the planet would call her before six in the morning.

“Good morning, mother.” She could hear Katherine Clark scoff over the phone.

“You sound awfully pleasant this morning. I’m at a loss at why you’re so chipper when you’re breaking your husband’s heart.”

And there it was… again.

“I’m doing great, mom… thanks for asking. How are you and daddy doing?”

“Don’t be flippant with me, young lady!”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, mom. Give me a blindfold and a cigarette at dawn if I’m ever flippant.”

“Where did I go wrong with you? Honestly, I believe you’re being stubborn just to defy me.”

Quinn inhaled slowly… her anger building.

“Yes, mother. This is all about you. I’m divorcing my lying, cheating, low-down snake of a husband just to spite you.”

“Quinn Avery! Do not speak to me in that manner.”

“What do you want, mother? I mean, besides for me to stop the divorce proceedings, which is never going to happen. What do you want?”

“I want you to be reasonable, dear, and think this through. No good can come of a divorce. It will only leave you both bitter and disillusioned.”

“Too late, mom. I got over the bitterness after Oscar’s THIRD affair… you know… FOUR affairs back? But the disillusionment? That’s still hanging around. Mostly because I cannot understand why MY family paints me as the villain when it was Oscar who mocked his wedding vows and disrespected our marriage. You should be standing behind me, not giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”

“You’re still young dear, and learning about the little indiscretions of men.”

Quinn had enough.

“I’ll let you get away with saying one affair is an indiscretion, mom, but seven? That’s just an unfaithful, disrespectful jerk. And I’m three years away from forty, mom, hardly a child. While some women may feel it’s okay for men to stray, I’m not in that club. I hold everyone to the same standards — honesty, fidelity, trust. I no longer have any of those with Oscar and haven’t had them for quite a while. Way past time to end our farce of marriage.”

“Marriage is for a lifetime, dear… and ordained by God.”

Ding, ding, ding! Katherine Clark was hitting all the markers today.

“The union of marriage is ordained by God, mother, but if God didn’t bring two people together, why is He used to keep them together? And, correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t adultery the only acceptable reason for divorce in the Bible? And isn’t it listed in the Big Ten?”

Katherine Clark was silent.

“Oscar has been to church only a handful of times since we were married—you don’t get to play the God-card with me, mom. He’s never been a part of this marriage.”

“People in our family do not get divorced, Quinn. You know this.”

Quinn chuckled.

“Yes, I do know, mom. I’ve seen the photos of long dead relatives who would rather have had their tongues cut out than divorce.”

“Quinn-…”

“I watch my brothers and their wives, barely able to be in the same room with each other, but too afraid of upsetting you, so they languish in marriages that should never have been. I do not intend to spend my life that way. I’m not stopping the divorce.”

“Your brothers are all happily married!”

“No, mother. YOU are happy they’re married. Myron and Aaron both never smile anymore. They bring their families for Sunday dinner to appease you and daddy, but always look like they’d rather be somewhere else.”

“You do not know everything, young lady. Aaron and Cecelia are talking about having another baby. They’re very much in love.”

“Oh mother, please! They’re talking about it because you suggested it. Cecelia is just as unhappy as Aaron and wants to be closer to her family back east.”

“Cecelia has loving family right here.”

“No, she has you and daddy, always butting in trying to run their marriage.”

“Quinn Avery! How dare you? I will not tolerate your disrespectful attitude!”

“Then we should end this call, mom, because I’m just being honest. I refuse to live in your fairy tale. Enjoy your day, mom.” Quinn ended the call, gripping the phone tightly. She took a couple of deeps breaths, then gently placed the cell on the counter.

Quinn emptied her now-cold coffee down the drain, and poured a fresh cup. A faint smile graced her lips. She’d endured one of her mother’s self-serving phone calls and was already mentally moving past it—all in less than twenty minutes.

Quinn remembered times when the same phone call would have thrown her off her game and ruined her entire day.

Not this time.

Things were definitely looking up.

©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Save

Not a Date #WritingChallenge


Not a Date- meatloaf

52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 49
This is another excerpt of my WIP, Sacrificial Daughter, currently at 69K. Ana is having dinner with a sheriff’s deputy and former “schoolmate.”

Murphy’s Family Restaurant topped Corwin’s annual food listing of favorite places to eat.

It wasn’t gourmet fare, secret recipes, or old family recipes which brought the crowds in, but the folksy, down-to-earth atmosphere found there 6 am to 9 pm seven days a week.

Third generation owner, Joe Murphy, welcomed every patron who walked through the door, and if he wasn’t available, his wife, Silvia, did.

Joe, Silvia, and the wait staff would have rolling conversations and included patrons. Topics were light, easy and fun. It wasn’t unusual for calls to come in inquiring not about the daily special, but what was the current topic of the day.

Analeigh Sellers pulled into Murphy’s parking lot at five minutes to six. Exiting her rental, she grinned when she saw Walt Gaskins leaning against a signpost near the entrance.

“How many demerits did you get for being late before you arrived early to everything?”

Ana laughed aloud.

“Believe it or not, I’ve never received a demerit for anything… and I’ve never been late.”

Walt threw his hands up in the air.

“Oh, my god, you’re a drill sergeant’s dream come true. Poster girl for the military.”

They both laughed as Walt opened the door for Ana and they headed for the wait stand.

“I said I never received demerits, but I was far from a DS’s dream recruit.”

Before Ana could continue, a loud bellow came from the other side of the restaurant.

“Walt. Hey. It’s always good to see you in the place.”

Without an ounce of shame, the large man gave Ana an appraising once over and nodded in approval.

“Walt, my man, your taste has improved a thousand percent. Introduce me to your beautiful friend.”

Walt and Ana’s smirks matched.

“You don’t recognize her?”

“Like I could forget these eyes. I never for-” Resting a hand on his waist, the confused man raised the other to scratch his head. Tilting his head, he stared at Ana again. His eyes widened in recognition.

“Analeigh?”

She looked from him to Walt and back.

“We’ve met?”

Walt explained.

“Analeigh, this is Joe Murphy, Jr. His family lived just outside the city limits and he didn’t go to our high school, but he spent a lot of time in town… working here and hanging out with the guys.”

“So, we never met.”

It was a statement, not a question.

“No, but I saw you around. I always thought you were so pretty. You left a big impression on me. I always hoped I’d see you whenever I came to town.”

“Thank you, Joe.”

“Dude, can we get a booth or are you going to keep drooling over my date?”

Joe, Jr. roared with laughter and gestured for the couple to follow him.

Ana wasn’t feeling the calm that showed on her face. Anxiety buzzed in her head while she tried to ignore Walt’s remark.

Date? He called her his date. Walt was over-the-top hot and gorgeous, but she only had room for one man in her head and her heart. She hoped Walt was simply using a figure of speech.

“How’s this?”

“Perfect, Joe. Thanks, man.”

“No problem. Wait staff will be right over. Enjoy.”

He looked at Ana again and walked away with a smile on his face.

Ana settled into the booth and admired the view from the large tempered window.

Acorn Fields, the city’s biggest park, stretched out for miles behind Murphy’s. Despite the evening hour, the vibrant colors of spring were still visible under the setting sun.

“Okay, remember I told you it’s meatloaf day, and it is amazing.”

“I had it a time or two when I came here with Rosie. Can’t remember if I liked it or not.”

Walt clutched his chest, feigning shock.

“That’s blasphemy. Everyone loves Murphy’s meatloaf. And order the mashed potatoes. They’re made fresh… no instant tater flakes here.”

Ana pushed her menu aside and folded her arms in front of her the table.

“Okay, but if I don’t like it, I’ll forever question your judgment.”

He mimicked her action with his arms.

“That’s fair.”

Walt’s smiled dimmed.

“How does it feel to be back, Analeigh?”

“Not as bad as I thought it would, but still a little unsettling. But I think it’s because Rosie’s gone.”

“You guys were close, huh?”

Ana shrugged a shoulder. “She made it bearable. I don’t know where I’d be today If I didn’t have Rosie in my life.”

Walt fidgeted in his seat.

“Analeigh… about when we were kids-”

“Thank you, Walt, but we need not rehash that. It won’t change the past.”

“I need you to understand. I never believed all those things I heard about you. Most kids didn’t. But it wasn’t just mean girls like Macy and Judy fueling the fire with rumors. Some of us had parents just as bad.”

“Walt, it wasn’t a fun time in my life, but it-”

“I’m sorry, Analeigh. I wanted to be your friend, but-”

The occasional glances cast her way from other customers since they entered were now outright stares. Swallowing her anxiety again, Ana touched Walt’s arm.

“It’s okay… honest. I’m fine. Let’s talk about something else.”

Walt ducked his head with a bashful grin.

“Thank you for being so gracious, Analeigh.”

Gracious? Was she being ‘gracious?’

Ana flashed a benign smile at Walt and ducked her head. She was glad Walt didn’t know this non-date was instead a trial-by-fire for her before the eyes of Corwin.

 

©Felicia Denise 2017

My One Takeaway From NaNoWriMo #MondayBlog


NaNo winner banner


Another NaNoWriMo is behind me.

Did I learn anything? Were there any takeaways?

Oh, sure. Planning is good. Plotting can be a friend… even to a pantser like me.

Maybe only character-driven writers will understand this, but all the planning and prepping in the world still guarantees you nothing.

I was plodding right along, words flowing like a cool stream, when all of a sudden, my beloved protagonist looks around with the malevolent grin of a serial killer and dumps a plot twist in my lap. (We’re still not speaking.)

Okaaaay. Now what?

I went with it.

The scene I was writing looked nothing like the one I sketched out six weeks ago. But, hey. Words were flowing… from somewhere, so I kept writing—and making notes.

I gave a cursory glance to my journal every morning, wondering if the completed scene would resemble what I’d planned in any way.

It didn’t.

But, I stayed with it, because that is the point of NaNoWriMo. Get the words out of your head and on paper…fifty-thousand of them at least.

I reached the halfway mark and wondered if Hemingway ever struggled like this. Then I realized he drank… and a glass of wine doesn’t sound bad. But should I drink it or give it to my protagonist?

Nah. I’m still not happy with her… the wine is mine.

After one glass of Sweet Red, I understand why Hemingway drank!

It gets you out of your own way. The wall of doubt and fountain of inhibitions fall and you write like you’re on fire.

Or maybe that was just me.

No, I’m not advocating drinking while writing. Our liver is our friend and unlike plots, we can’t get a new one with every manuscript.

But, a writer writes because they have to. It is a deep-seeded need that can only be fulfilled by putting words on paper. Anything else is unacceptable.

If you get hit with a dose of writer’s block, get out of your way. The characters didn’t change and the words remain the same. The problem is you.

Remember why you write.

Remember the freedom you feel.

Remember the sense of accomplishment you feel regardless of if it’s five, five hundred, or five-thousand words you leave on the paper.

It took me a couple of years to “get it” but the NaNoWriMo rule of no editing makes perfect sense. It makes me get out of my own way to just write. Of course, by doing so, I’m also giving my characters free reign, but that’s a completely different blog post.

I’ve spent the first three days of December making notes and moving things around in my MS, however, I’m putting it away until after the holidays. But sometime in January, I’ll have to decipher all those red squiggly lines and double blue lines, and wonder if I was typing in alien code.

And there may or may not be wine involved, because… Hemingway.