Archive | September, 2013

Daily Inspiration: Acrobatics

15 Sep

I didn’t care much for the Daily Prompt today, but luckily I found Daily Inspiration and their prompt helped me think of a scene.  It was a rather simple one, “Describe an acrobatic scene.”  This takes from the female protagonist in my first WIP after the main action of the novel.  Enjoy!

There wasn’t much else to do the weekend the circus came to town.  Everyone else was going and David begged and begged for June to take him.  She wasn’t one to deny her nephew what he wanted, especially when it sparked her curiosity as well.  One day when John and Dot were at work, she gold David to put his shoes on because they were going to the circus.

His little eyes were wide the second the big top came into sight.  He wanted to see, touch, taste, and smell everything within the circus’s fence: the bearded woman, the tigers, the small stand selling popcorn.  June was afraid his little heart would stop when the ringmaster walked past them.

“Say, young man, are you enjoying yourself today?” he asked David, even though it must have been clear he was with how big the young boy’s smile was.

David nodded, too excited to reply.

“And have you seen the acrobats yet?  They’re the best part of the circus.”

The small boy looked up at his aunt, his eyes wide, pleading to be taken to the circus.  The ringmaster had a twinkle in his eye as he tipped his hat at June.  He had roped her into spending another nickle for the two of them to get into the acrobats tent and he must have known it.

“The show starts in fifteen minutes in the big top,” the ringmaster said and walked away with a smile.

David started jumping up and down with excitement.  “I want to see the acrobats, Aunt June!  I want to see them fly!”

June gave in easily; she loved to spoil her nephew.  They found their way to the big top and found seats in the second row.  David was bouncing up and down as he waited for the show to begin.  When the ringmaster walked to the center of the sawdust-covered ring, David went rigid.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the greatest show on Earth!”  His mustache was moving wildly with the gusto of his speaking and the whole audience was entrapped.  “You are about to see amazing feats of strength, grace, and beauty that will astound and amaze you!  I ask that you please keep silent and let our performers concentrate on their act.  Four people walked into the big top and lined up behind the ringmaster.  “Coming all the way from Europe,” he said with a sweep of his arm, “we have four of the finest performers here for you today.  Please, give them a warm welcome!”

The crowd clapped wildly as the four acrobats gave a friendly wave to the crowd.  Two dashed out of the circle and the remaining two began their routine.  The executed cartwheels, back flips and handstands that left David clapping happily next to June.  She smiled, reminded of her own childhood and the excitement she felt when something new came into her life.

The spotlight turned off on the performers and shone on the two who had run off.  They were standing high above the crowd’s head on small wooden platforms.  The man of the pair held a trapeze in one hand as he waved.  With a leap, he left the platform and sailed through the big top.  On his back swing, he looped his knees over the bar and reached for his partner, who he grabbed easily from the platform.  The two of them flew as one through the air.

June’s heart was caught in her throat out of fear.  She didn’t want to be a witness to the death of one of the performers.  David was clapping while June tried to remember to breath.

The two performers from the ground had made their way up to another platform and one of them struck out on a second trapeze.  The swing of the two timed up and with a might grunt, the first man threw his partner into the air.

The second she spent in mid-air made June tense with nerves.  What if the second performer’s grip slipped?  What if the timing of the act was wrong?  What would happen if she wasn’t thrown hard enough?  The danger of the moment made her heart stop.

When the flying woman’s hands connected with the second performer’s wrists, the crowd broke into a roaring round of applause.  As the crowd around her rose to their feet, June realized she was already standing.  The action had swept her up and she was ready to rush to the acrobat’s aid if she should fall.

The crowd slowly began to sit back down and June joined in.  She distracted herself for the rest of the performance by watching David’s reactions.  She couldn’t bring herself to watch the performers fly though the air.  It was a dangerous performance and June had had her fill of dangerous professions when she was in Chicago.  Thinking of the voluntary risk only made her think of one person and how his career path had cost him everything he loved.


Recently Added to my To-Read Shelf

14 Sep

I’ve successfully added another three books to my To-Read Shelf so it’s time to tell you all about them!

  1. Loba by Diane di Prima.   This book was lent to me by a friend, the same person who lent me Post Office.  Loba is Spanish for she-wolf and di Prima’s piece explores feminist issues through poetry.  I’ve never read Beatnik poetry before so this one will be a very different experience.
  2. Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck.   Whenever I tell anyone that I’m researching the 1920s, they have another book I should read or movie I should watch.  This is one of those recommendations.  Tracing the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, this novel concentrates on her battle with madness and insanity in a mental hospital at the outbreak of the Depression.  Zelda forms a relationship with her nurse, Anna, that becomes much more than the two anticipated.
  3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.   Nicole found this on-line and realized that the two of us must read it.  The story focuses on Cath, who is an extreme fangirl: writing fan fiction, dressing up for releases, etc.  When she goes to college, her sister and fellow fangirl declines living together and distances herself from Cath.  Cath must develop her own path and contemplate leaving her fandom behind.

So there they are!  Have you read any of them or heard anything about them?  Which ones should I jump at or are there some I might want to take off of my list?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Novel Girls: Space and Senses

13 Sep

I love talking about writing with my friends, it helps me think of what will make me a better writer!  This week, only Nicole and I were able to make it to our Thursday night get-together.  I shared the next ten pages of my rough draft and Nicole shared a revision she wrote of the third chapter of her WIP.  This week, we came across two topics worth blogging about, and the second one is a doozy!

  1. Spatial Relations: When you’re writing a scene, your writer’s head is so deep into the scene that you can see your characters and you watch them move within that scene.  It can be hard to translate that image to words sometimes.  Nicole and I both had some little problems with spatial relations this week.  Nicole’s scene had two characters entering a room together.  A few sentences later, one of them was calling from across the room.  I was confused as to when he had moved across (a quick one-sentence-fix).  Later in that scene, the character I still saw as near the door was picking at crumbs on a tablecloth and I was lost as to where the table was located in the apartment.
    We’ve been working on each other’s stories for so long that I’d developed a mental picture of Nicole’s apartment setting and I moved the characters to the correct locations in my mental picture without needing movement words to take them there.  However, the first-time reader might not have as strong of a visual of the apartment and the scene would flow more smoothly with a few sentences like “Male character crossed the room to grab a water bottle from the kitchen,” or “Female character sat down at the folding table the girls used as a sad excuse for a kitchen table.”
    Nicole found a big flaw in my use of spatial relations as well.  I have a scene when my female protagonist is sneaking out of the house to meet a friend on the street in front of the house.  Nicole was confused reading the passage as to how she would sneak out with no one seeing.  I drew a quick picture of the house as I imagined it and she was right, the protagonist would be walking right in front of the window to the dining room where her entire family was eating dinner.  Not very stealthy.
    So, to combat this, I have two options.  One is for me to have her take a different path out of the house or meet the friend somewhere else, a simple fix.  The other (much more complicated but the better solution) is to re-design the house and the way I view it.  She would still be in the line of sight when leaving the house and that’s a risk she wouldn’t take.  It’s a bigger fix than I imagined.
  2. Senses: This discussion was really twofold, the first in Nicole’s WIP and the second in mine.
    1. Senses defined by narrator: Nicole’s re-write of her third chapter involved changing a scene to a different character’s POV.  It was done well, but there was one line that threw me off.  So, in this scene, Character A is in a room when Character B wakes up.  The line that threw me off was that Character B saw XXX when she woke up, but Character A is narrating.  Character A would have had no way to know what Character B was seeing.  (Again, easy fix, “Character A eyed the XXX in front of her warily…”)  This brings out a good point that to stay strong in one POV, all sensory perception of other characters have to be removed.  They can report on any physical action taken as a result of sensory perception (his nose wrinkled at the bad smell…. she cringed at the loud whistle…) but can’t report on that sense.  Good point to check if you’re jumping or changing POVs in a story.
    2. Engage all senses:  One of my weaknesses as a writer is to not engage the senses and this came up again last night.  One of my scenes seemed really flat.  All of Nicole’s suggestions had to do with bringing in a sensory description such as the smell of one character’s perfume or the sound of another’s voice.  This reminds me of a blog post I read by Jools, one the blogs I follow.  She said that in every scene, she forced herself to ask, What else?  What else could be in the scene to make it richer and more vibrant?  I try to ask myself this as I work on my new WIP and as I revise my first.

So there you have it!  Some good advise/ reflection from this week’s Novel Girls.  Was this helpful?  Do you struggle with spatial relations or sensory description?  What do you do to overcome this?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Book Review: Post Office by Charles Bukowski

12 Sep

Time for a second book review!  I added this one to my To-Read shelf and removed it so quickly that I didn’t have time to explain why it was there in the first place!  I was visiting my friend TS and complimented him on his bookshelf.  Immediately, he handed me two books.  One of them was Post Office by Charles Bukowski.  (Does anyone else have the problem of being handed large numbers of books upon friends finding out you like to read?)

Post Office by Charles Bukowski

Henry Chinaski has only one steady thing in his life: employment with the US Postal Service.  He bounces around between woman, horse races, and alcohol but always has the Postal Service to come back to.  He starts as a substitute carrier, lugging a mailbag through hell or high water with unexpected twists and turns, never the same two days in a row.  After a brief reprise, he’s back ‘sticking’ (sorting) mail, sitting on a stool all day.

The cover quote on my copy toted it as “One of the funniest books ever written.”  Needless to say, I had high expectations.  Maybe I wouldn’t have used the word ‘funniest,’ maybe ‘satirical’ or ‘ironic’ would have fit better.  I think I may have laughed once, but it wasn’t a long and hard laugh.  It was a great satire of corporate structure and the flaws inherent in large organizations.  For skipping work, Henry was suspended for three days, a vacation really.  Out of 150 people who were hired with Henry, only 2 were left five years later.  The plight of the working man.

I have worked for large organizations before and I could see the irony in Bukowski’s writing.  There are so many people looking for a job, why does the company have to treat its people right?  In such a large company, incentives get lost and its hard to motivate employees.  One of the scenes that must struck me (and was one that made me smile if not laugh) came toward the end.  Henry is being written up for taking 28 minutes to sort a box of mail that should, according to studies, take 23 minutes.  He’s told that he cost the company five minutes.  Henry argues that the 23 minute time allotment isn’t fair because some boxes are larger than others.  The man says it doesn’t matter, he gets 23 minutes and costs the company money if he doesn’t do it in that time.  Henry asks what he can do if he gets a small box and sorts it in seven minutes.  Does he get 16 minutes that he saved the company to go home early or take a long break?  Of course not!  He should immediately grab another box, which he only gets 23 minutes to sort.

The book also explores the weird and wonderful world of love.  Henry is married twice in the book and takes on an undefined number of lovers.  One of the most touching parts of the manuscript (in my opinion) was when Henry ran into his ex-wife, Betty.  I won’t spoil the scene, but we see Henry as a man who hurts and mourns a loss.  He takes a day off for the funeral and forgets to call in.  One guess at what the Post Office does in response.

This topic seems timely to me because I’ve read another book that discusses some similar ideas.  Then We Came to the End by Joshua Farris was a book club selection earlier this year.  Set in 2000, it’s a bit of an update on Bukowski’s characters.  These characters work in an advertising agency, but the focus is on the interpersonal relationships they have and the things they do when they should be working.  Another man lost in the corporate structure.

I’m not sure what this book taught me, I’m already familiar with corporate structure and motivation having taken Organizational Behavior classes.  It was very different from what I’ve ready before but has a cult following.

Writer Takeaway: This book is considered a classic, yet I was not at all a fan.  I guess as a writer, I have to see that as long as you can connect to a group of people and connect strongly with them, you are a successful writer.  Maybe it’s best not to be totted as the ‘best’ or ‘most’ anything, because people will go in with an open mind, which I was unable to do.

As far as style, I did enjoy Bukowski’s style and quick-paced writing.  He used short chapters the encouraged me to keep read “Just one more.”  I read it much quicker than I otherwise would have.

Two out of five stars.

Prompt Group: Statue

11 Sep

Every other Tuesday is my writers’ group that focuses on prompts.  We did two as a group last night and I wasn’t happy with either of them.  The first was “I’m feeling hot, hot, hot” to which I wrote a short account of someone who’s sick going through the overheating/freezing stages, but it was noting special.  The second was to write an overly fictionalized account of someone in the room going to a museum of natural history.  While Nicole and KK found what I wrote amusing, I don’t think it would appeal to the wider audience of WordPress.

So, Nicole and I stayed after and did an ‘Extra Credit’ prompt which, I can happily say, I am pleased with.  In the spirit of NaNoWriMo prep, I used my main character from my NaNo.

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments, as well as how you are preparing for NaNo.  Enjoy!

There was a statue of the founder of Fairbanks in the middle of town, E.T. Barnette.  Unfortunately for him, the person who made the statue didn’t think about the climate of Fairbanks.  The statue was porous and water could sneak under his skin. E.T. defrosted every spring and parts of his body fell off over time.  By now, his left hand, left ear, right toes, and his entire forehead were missing.  As Melissa sat there in the spring, there were bird feces covering the gouge in his head, dripping out like a boiled stew.

She sat down on the pedestal, breathing deeply and feeling the rise and fall of her stomach, knowing that soon enough, it would be mostly rise and not as much fall.

In only a month, the place she was sitting would be buried under a foot of snow and in just the thin sweater Melissa was wearing she would catch frost bite on 90% of her extremities.

Melissa realized that she didn’t know a thing about Fairbanks, Alaska, or harsh winters in general.  In fact, she had never even seen a movie that took place in Alaska or bothered to read Jack London books about surviving winters north of Minneapolis.  She was drastically unprepared for the Land of the Midnight Sun.

On top of surviving an Arctic winter, she had her grandmother to care for.  Taking care of someone couldn’t be that hard, Melissa reasoned.  People take care of old people and babies all the time.  Granted, most of them probably don’t do both at once during one of the harshest winter in the United States.  But somewhere, someone’s got to be doing it as well.

She heard her mom calling her from the hospital.  “Grandma’s ready to go.  You have to sign the release papers.”

Melissa got up: not excited, not dreading, but not quite hopeful.

Book Club Reflection: Grand River and Joy by Susan Messer

10 Sep

One of my ‘themed’ posts I want to do is a reflection of what information was covered in my bi-weekly (usually) book club meetings.  I’ll still post reviews of the books as I finish them, but I’ll also take notes during my meetings and summarize what the group thought of the book.  I hope to close with some things I learned about being an engaging writer from listening to everyone.

So for this month, there’s not the advantage of a book review to go back to before reading this reflection.  As I always will, I’ll direct you to Goodreads.

Grand River and Joy by Susan Messer

Short synopsis: Harry Levine lives in Detroit and owns a shoe wholesaler at the intersection of Grand River Avenue and Joy Road (hense the title).  He and his fellow Jewish neighbors are starting to think about leaving Messerthe city for the more comfortable suburbs.  Slowly, his neighborhood empties and the blacks start to move in.  Tensions are high and the setting is prime for the 1967 Detroit Race Riots.  Based on the history of the riots, Messer spins a tale of tested relationships and what it means to be a good friend.

To preface these discussions, please remember that I live in Detroit.  There were several members of the group who were alive during the riots and have vivid memories of what happened during those few tense days.  (For anyone unfamiliar with the Detroit Riots, Wikipedia is always good for a short summary.)

Messer uses one-word titles for her chapters with the exception of the chapter about the riots themselves.  She titled that one “Riot/Rebellion.”  We discussed why this one deserved two words.  (I cheated since I’d already read an interview with the author where she was asked this exact question.)  We got he answer ‘right’ in that Messer realized the Riots were not riots to everyone; many of the blacks living in Detroit saw the events as a rebellion against a police force that at many times was oppressive toward the black populace.  The majority of officers in Detroit were white while the whites were no longer a majority of the city.  The non-black population (mostly white Christians and Jews) felt that the blacks were rebelling against a force that in their opinion was keeping everyone safe and the city in good order.  Messer has two major characters, one white and one black, who would have viewed the events in two different ways and having the Riot/Rebellion title reflects that.

Harry Levine’s business is saved from ransacking by a message scrawled above his doorway.  (You’ll have to excuse me for not remembering the exact words, our club moderator took the copies back!)  To me, this was reminiscent of the plagues in Egypt and how those who had the message written above their doors were spared.  The other members of my group talked about instances they remembered from the riots when similar messages were scrawled across storefronts.  Those who would lend on credit or who cared about their neighborhood were spared; women would stand in front of stores to tell looters to pass them by.  The houses of policemen were marked not to avoid trouble, but to respect those who kept the peace (I’m not sure if this was during the riots or more of a modern-time-comment).

One of the most touching scenes in the book is when Harry sits down with his tenant and pseudo-employee Curtis in the basement of the store, waiting for the plumber to open so he can come fix their boiler.  It was right before the riots and showed how the two men, who physically appear so differently, are so alike.  They both complained about their children not listening to them, being cold, the state of the city, etc.  They were both uncomfortable talking to someone so different from themselves at first but with the help of alcohol and a long night, they realized they were saying the exact same thing, only in different ways.  My group reflected on how being comfortable around someone with a different background is something one learns early in life and if it’s not learned early, it’s hard to overcome.  A woman reflected on how a school group from only an hour outside of the city had come to Detroit for a field trip and felt like they were seeing animals in the zoo when a school group of black children passed them by.

Harry’s wife, Ruth, is the second narrator of the book.  Her main conflict centers around the community Woman’s Jewish group.  She has been asked to give a presentation on whether it is best to stay in the city or move to the suburbs.  She’s conflicted on what to say because the group will come up with an official recommendation and Ruth’s not sure what she thinks.  She likes living in the city but sees it slowly falling apart.  In the end, she really doesn’t say anything.  I posed the question as to who the recommendation was aimed toward.  Would it be a city wide proclamation?  A fellow reader pointed out that the woman’s group was looking for validation; is it okay to leave?  Is everyone else going to come, too?  If the club recommended leaving, they could all leave their guilt behind.  In the end, Ruth decided to leave because the riots destroyed all her hope of the city being regenerated and a good place to raise a family.

There was a minor character who really touched me.  I think he was an angel.  He appeared the first time in a flashback Harry had.  He remembered a black man who had found him playing hookey from work and taken him to the Detroit Institute of Art so he could see Diego Rivera paint the Detroit Industry murals.  I’m a huge fan of these murals and every time I see them, I’m completely moved.  (Side note, if you’re ever in Detroit, it’s my #1 recommendation.)  This man helps him see the beauty of life, race, and the city.  In one of the last scenes during the riots, a suspiciously similar character guides Harry to a synagog where he finds peace praying in a shul with other men.  I think the character was guiding Harry through his rough times and helping him find the peace and beauty of the city.

It’s ironic to note that Grand River and Joy is not in the best of neighborhoods now.  The setting Messer painted was quite clean, orderly, and high-class.  No longer.

Of the three people sitting around me, two recommend the book to others, one did not.  I give it four out of five stars.

As a writer, I listened closely to what others said about Messer’s writing style.  We were disappointed at times by a lack of description.  There were scenes that she built up to and then skipped over, leaving the reader wanting more than was there.  Her lack of description made some of the characters feel flat.  We connected well with the book, but wonder if much of that was because of the setting so close to home and (for some) personal memories of the events taking place.  I think I would be more likely to recommend this book to other Detroiters than to someone from outside the city.  It might read as more fiction to someone who isn’t familiar with Detroit’s past.
Writers takeaway: Make your characters relatable and detailed, don’t fall short of a scene you’ve built up to, make your setting tangible to those who are unfamiliar with it (especially a struggle in science fiction).  Techniques: repeating secondary characters who carry a consistent message across scenes, touching upon real history to make a personal connection with readers.

Writer Goals

9 Sep

I was lying awake in bed last night unable to sleep.  I was thinking about how unlikely I am to ever be published!  My husband (being the amazing man he is) helped me think through it and told me to define some goals I want to accomplish.

  1. Use traditional publishing: I know a lot of people are pursuing the self-publishing route currently.  My goal is to use the traditional agent/editor/publisher route.  I think I would try for a steady five years before I’d consider self-publishing.  My goal is to not have to try for so long.
  2. Have over 100 ratings on Goodreads: I know this one seems a bit strange.  I see books on the Goodreads site with seven or 12 reviews and I get sad that so few people have read that book!  My husband tried to put it into realistic terms for me.  He challenged me to go to the library, find a random book in a random aisle, and see how many reviews it had on Goodreads.  He’s probably right that it wouldn’t have 100,000 but I’m going to guess that a given library book would have over 100.  (PS- I’m going to do this experiment.  It sounds fun.)
  3. Be featured in a ‘Local Authors’ section at a bookstore: I think a lot of authors dream of this.  I’m fine if I’m not on the New York Times list, but to be featured somewhere would be a dream come true.
  4. Have my book available in libraries: So that crazy book-lovers like myself can stumble upon it.  That really is the dream.  And finally;
  5. To catch someone reading my book: I got this idea from a book (strangely enough).  In the book Ape House by Sara Gruen (Fun Fact: This is a NaNo book), one of the characters is married to a writer.  She says that it’s always her dream to catch a reader ‘in the wild.’  I think that’s a wonderful goal and it would be so fulfilling.

So those are my goals.  Please leave a comment telling me what your goals are (as a writer, blogger, or otherwise).  Let’s try to help each other achieve our goals!

Novel Girls: Two Writer-ly Questions

9 Sep

Today, Nicole and I met up at a Starbucks to do some writing reviewing.  I think we picked the world’s smallest Starbucks.  There was one free table when I got there and there were only five tables total!  Add in a co-ed bathroom and my vote is in for smallest.

Anyway, it’s good having someone to chat with who’s going through some of the same writer-ly problems.  I thought I’d enumerate a few here.  Leave a comment if you have some similar problems or any advice on overcoming them.

  1. Feedback from critique groups: This was a problem I proposed to Nicole.  I recently took the third chapter of my novel to a monthly critique group.  (Nicole has read my manuscript in whole and is usually the person I bounce changes off of before doing anything drastic.)  One of the critiques I was given at the group meeting was to change the ending of the chapter.  The father of one of my protagonists reveals a big plot element at the end, and the critique group said that he gave up the information too easily!  They were shocked that he would reveal this information to his high-school age children and a trusted family friend.  In the meeting, I told them that the children are going to help him solve the problem created by this plot element and their reaction was that these characters are children and they are too young to help.  I was appalled!  In the 1920s, most teens over 15 held a job and not many went to college.  Getting married at age 18 was common and many people were working in their career at the same age.  At 16 and 17, my characters are practically adults.  All the same, this group recommended I change it so that the father does not as quickly divulge said information.
    I had an issue with this.  If the father knew that his children were going to be helping, why would he hide the information from them?  Nicole knows what happens a few scenes later and agreed with me that I should keep it as is; it makes sense in the grand scheme of things.
    So this brings me to my problem, Do you ever get feedback from a critique that you completely disagree with?  Does it make you feel compelled to change something in your story?  When do you decide to ignore it or change your plot based on it?
  2. Planning a story:  This is something I’ve been toying with.  My completed novel, I wrote out a multi-page outline, complete with a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of what was going to happen in each part.  I’m working on a similar outline for the story I’m going to write for NaNoWriMo.  Just to be different, there’s a novel I’m working on casually right now that I’m not outlining and trying to ‘fly by the seat of my pants.’  Nicole is in the middle of one story with an outline, and she hasn’t yet started outlining her NaNo, and isn’t sure if she plans to.
    Question number two: Do you have better luck outlining a novel before beginning, or figuring the plot out as you go?  Do you ever write yourself into a corner without an outline?  Do you find you lose plot points?  With an outline, do you find writing point-to-point is too boring and lose interest?

I’ve love to hear any and all opinions on these questions!  Dealing with feedback and planning are probably the two hardest points for me as a writer.  Thanks for taking the time to read!

Daily Prompt: Excitement

8 Sep

So, I realized that that the post I wanted to be published tonight went up last night instead.  Oh well.  I guess I’ll just have to write up another post for tonight.  Am I right?!

I liked doing the Daily Prompt yesterday, so I’m going to do it again today.  Again, these are my characters from a scene not (yet) in my novel.  I’m just getting to know them better.  Here, we’re visiting June, my female protagonist.

The Daily Prompt: Excitement

June was shaking with anticipation.  She hadn’t been to this barber shop since Donny’s father was shot there.  The bullet holes that Benny’s guys had fired were still in the back wall.  The distillery that had been there was gone and the owners were new.  The blood of Donny’s father was long since cleaned up, but the memory was permanently etched in the plaster.

“All of it, ma’am?” the barber asked.

“All of it,” June replied, her voice revealing that she wasn’t quite as sure as her words implied.

The snip snip snip of the scissors was all she heard for a time.

“You need to stop shaking, ma’am.  You want a straight line and I can’t guarantee that with all your shaking.”

“I’m sorry,” June said.  “I’m just so excited.”

The big man smiled.  “Lots of ladies are excited to finally get their hair bobbed.  Though, most of them did it years ago!  What made you finally change your mind?”

June thought a moment on what the best response would be.  Was it that she knew her brother would be mad?  Was it that she finally felt like the flapper mentality was creeping into the crevices of her brain?  Or was it that she wanted to impress a certain blonde who she knew would be enthralled?

“I got a new hat and I just knew that it needed some short hair to make it look like the bee’s knees.  It just had to be time for a bob!”

The barber let out a chuckle and made his final snips.  It hadn’t taken long and there was no going back.  June fingered the ends of her hair as she gazed in the mirror.  The long flowing red locks were short and came to an abrupt end like a sentence cut off by a whining child.

“It looks wonderful, ma’am.  I’m sure you’ll be quite the sheeba in your new hat.”

June grinned.  That was the plan, after all.

Daily Prompt: Luxury

8 Sep

I’m very familiar with prompts.  A weekly writers group I attend does one to three each meeting, and then we share with the group.  I convince myself that these prompts will help me come up with new ideas for novels and short stories.  After almost a year going to this group, it’s happened only once.  My husband’s solution was to try using my characters in the prompts to help me get to know them better.  Total times I’ve done this: 0.  I do think it’s a great idea.

So here’s attempt #1.  The Daily Prompt for today was ‘Luxurious,’ the one luxury you can’t live without.  And here’s my attempt to show my male protagonist, Tony, within these confines.  Enjoy!


Driving down the street, Tony couldn’t wipe a satisfied grin off of his face.  The grey Lincoln attracted attention on its own, there as no need for him to draw even more by cruising slowly and making eye contact with pedestrians.  He loved the feeling of being seen in the car.  A Lincoln meant money and a need for speed.  It meant he was living the high life in his penthouse apartment and that alcohol was a lucrative business.

If Tony had been a gentleman, he would have picked up his date in the grad car and driven her to a restaurant where he would woo her with a gourmet meal and champagne straight from France.  But honestly, what seventeen year old heir to a mobster throne is a perfect gentleman?  He parked the car behind the hottest speakeasy in Cicero and waited for attendants to open the door for him.  There was a group of fine looking debs huddled near the door.  Tony smirked, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel tonight.

“Ladies,” he said, coming up to them with a smile.  “Why are you waiting outside of this fine establishment?  Wouldn’t indoors suit you much better?”

A tall girl in a navy blue cloche giggled.  “They won’t let us in yet; they say the place is packed and there’s not enough room.”

Tony grinned.  “Nonsense.  I’m sure these fine gentlemen can find some space for three dolls.”  Every girl blushed.  “Come on, you’re with me.”  He started walking to the entrance which was carefully hidden next to the garbage pile.

“Was that you who drove up in the Lincoln?” a girl in a red knee-length dress asked.  “It was really nifty.”

It was too easy.  “Yes, yes, that’s one of them.  The black one’s my favorite but I could only get the grey one tonight.”  The girls exchanged excited glances as Tony knocked on the door.  A small panel slid open and the bouncer eyed him up and down quickly.  The loud jazz poured out of the hole and Tony’s heart started to rush in anticipation of the evening.

“Tony Pellerito?” he asked.

“That’s me,” Tony said, flashing a smile.

The door opened quickly.  “No need to speak easy tonight, Mr. Pellerito.  Welcome.”

Tony flashed the three girls a devilish smile and walked in.  He put an arm around two of the girls as they followed.  Life was just too easy for Tony these days.