Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes from the book formerly known as The Very Next (new and improved title a secret till its eventual release), my chronological second Atlantic City book. It’s set from March–December 1939, and introduces mother-daughter antagonists Urma and Samantha Smart, along with the first two sets of European characters linked back to the Atlantic City characters.
I put a huge amount of work into the third draft of this book, to the point where it’s almost entirely a brand-new story. It was a 24,000-word hot mess when I began rewriting and restructuring it earlier this year, and I made it into a 75,000-word story with an actual structure and focus. 75K is pretty long by the standards of my Atlantic City books, but in this case, the length is perfect.
Chapter 33, “A Heavy Halloween,” opens with the antagonistic Urma and Samantha, unwanted longterm houseguests, sniping at Cinnimin about her household’s celebration of the holiday. Some of you may remember Cinni from the excerpts I shared in the days of Six Sentence Sunday, when she’d just met the love of her life, Levon Kevorkian, in May 1942.
“You people are nothing but pagans,” Sam declared as she sank her fork into a sausage. “It’s a miracle my mother and I ain’t gone blind yet from looking at all your heathen decorations.”
“They’re our Halloween decorations, and if you dare rip ‘em down or otherwise destroy ‘em, you’re gonna get it.” Cinni poured more maple syrup over her chocolate chip pancakes. “Thank God your insane mom won’t force us to bring you along for trick-or-treating. Even Sparky went last year, even though she’d never done Halloween before. It’s just a fun holiday about dressing up, getting candy, and telling spooky stories.”
“It’s a holiday about worshipping the Devil, is what it is,” Urma said. “You even dressed up as the Devil himself. If I find out Samantha got punished for refusing to come to school in costume today, I’ll have some very strong words for that heathen at the helm of your Satanic school.”
Urma and Sam became Methodist fundamentalists in 1936, and now firmly believe everything but breathing and reading the Bible their way is a sin. Deep down, Sam just wants to be a normal kid and is afraid of her mother, but she’s years away from being strong enough to develop her own life and stand up to her mother.