Mickey’s Halloween costume

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

This year’s Halloween-themed excerpts come from the eighth book in my Saga of the Sewards series (formerly known as Max’s House). It needs a great deal of editing, rewriting, and revision, along with a new title, so I’m doing preliminary edits and fleshing it out as I go this month.

We’re now at the school’s Halloween dance and party, which Elaine and her friend Quintina were in charge of putting together. Elaine’s cousin Max carved all the jack-o-lanterns, and finished shortly before the first attendees arrived.

Elaine stared at Mickey as she entered the gym. It seemed a foregone conclusion she’d win most original costume, with a leotard splattered with twenty different colors, hands encased in rubber snake heads, alligator feet, yellowed teeth, a sash of cellophane flowers, hair dyed ten different colors, skin dyed more different colors than Elaine could keep track of, and kaleidoscope glitter glued around her eyes.

Mickey waved as she approached. “I’m a peyote hallucination. Don’t ask how many hours it took to make this.”

“What’s peyote?” Elaine asked.

“It’s a type of mescaline, a natural drug the Indians use for spiritual experiences. Peyote produces visions that look like me.”

“Where’d you get the purple lipstick from?” Kit asked. “I’d love to wear something besides red and pink for a change.”

The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.

“This is dye, not lipstick.” Mickey lit a Lucky Strike. “Though I have seen a few lipsticks that are so dark they look almost purple. I wish makeup producers would be more creative with colors. Sometimes you just want to have fun.”

“You and me both. If I ever found lipstick in purple, green, and blue, I’d want to wear it every day, not just for Halloween and costume parties. Makeup is supposed to reflect our personalities and interests instead of being a boring one size fits all uniform.”

WeWriWa—An unpopular costume choice

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

This year’s Halloween-themed excerpts come from the eighth book in my Saga of the Sewards series (formerly known as Max’s House). It needs a great deal of editing, rewriting, and revision, along with a new title, so I’m doing preliminary edits and fleshing it out as I go this month.

The Sewards are now at a costume store, and Mr. Seward, who has very rigid ideas about almost everything, decides for his youngest children, 20-month-old quints, what they’re going to dress as.

“Clown,” Susie said.

“Ghost,” Andrew said.

“Peanut,” Paula said.

“Marshmallow,” Amy said.

“Seal,” Peggy said.

“Oh, no, you five will all be clowns,” Mr. Seward said.

“Clowns scare me, Daddy!” Amy bawled.

“No want face paint!” Peggy wept.

“Itchy pants!” Andrew said.

“Itchy wig!” Paula sobbed.

The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.

Mr. Seward found five matching clown outfits in the quints’ size.

“Peanut, peanut!” Paula wept.

Tiffany glared at their father. “Why do you treat them like one person with five bodies? At least your attempt to make them as famous and exploited as the Dionnes didn’t last long.”

Mr. Seward glared right back. “Multiples are supposed to always do everything exactly alike. If quints weren’t so rare, I’d demand they marry another set of quints too. Elaine, would you check the costumes out while I take the younger children to the limo? The other patrons don’t deserve to be subjected to this tantrum.” 

The moment her uncle left the store, Elaine put four of the clown outfits back on the rack. She then got the other four desired costumes.

WeWriWa—Pumpkin antics with the Sewards

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weekend_writing_warriorsveteransbadge_4

Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

This year’s Halloween-themed excerpts come from the eighth book in my Saga of the Sewards series (formerly known as Max’s House). It needs a great deal of editing, rewriting, and revision, along with a new title, so I’m doing preliminary edits and fleshing it out as I go this month.

The year is 1943, and as always, chaos and comedic mayhem reign supreme in the Sewards’ large blended family. Max just went upstairs to help his older sister Tiffany with carving the jack-o-lantern and found her instead making out with her secret fiancé Marc. Mr. Seward forbade Tiffany to see Marc again after discovering they began sleeping together two years ago, and now they’re constantly meeting in secret.

“The pumpkin guts are over there.” Tiffany pointed without looking away from Marc. “You can stall Dad for time by baking pumpkin seeds.” She began tousling Marc’s hair.

Max picked up the bowl of pumpkin guts and went back downstairs.

“Why don’t we cook the seeds?” he asked when he returned to the parlor. “Tiff’s doing a really intricate design, and won’t be done for awhile. It’s great to have a cook, but sometimes it’s fun to do your own cooking.”

“Since when do you like doing anything that’s not fun and doesn’t provide instant gratification?” Mr. Seward asked. “This is a Halloween miracle.”

The ten lines end here. A few more follow to complete the scene.

“Maybe we can bake Halloween cookies, cakes, and pies too,” Elaine suggested, guessing the real reason Max had made such an unusual request. “By the time the last one comes out of the oven, it’ll be just about time to leave for the costume store.”

“That’s a good idea,” Adeladie said. “I’ve collected a bunch of Halloween dessert recipes torn out from magazines, and each one looks more delicious than the last.”

“I want to decorate my cookies with jack-o-lanterns, witches, black cats, and bats,” Cora Ann said.

Mr. Seward tightly pursed his lips as he led his large brood towards the larger kitchen.

A pumpkin for the Sewards

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weekend_writing_warriorsveteransbadge_4

Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

This year for my Halloween-themed excerpts, I’ll be sharing from the eighth book in my Saga of the Sewards series (formerly known as Max’s House). It needs a great deal of editing, rewriting, and revision, along with a new title, so I’ll be doing preliminary edits and fleshing it out as I go this month.

The year is 1943, and as always, chaos and comedic mayhem reign supreme in the Sewards’ large blended family.

The next day, Mr. Seward brought home a pumpkin.

“Are we making a scarecrow?” Cora Ann asked.

“No, it’s for a jack-o-lantern,” Mr. Seward said. “Don’t all volunteer to help carve it at once.”

“Can I carve it?” Max asked.

Elaine gave him a mock-sweet smile. “Sure. You need to carve sixty jack-o-lanterns for the school dance and party; what’s one more?”

“Maybe it’d be better if I carve it,” Tiffany said. “It’ll relieve Max’s burden.”

The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.

She took it upstairs to her room with a carving knife.

“Tonight we go out to look for your Halloween costumes,” Mr. Seward went on.  “No vandalizing during trick-or-treating!”

“You yourself vandalize on Halloween!” Max protested.

Marc put a ladder up against a side of the house.

“When do we go shopping tonight?” Max asked.

“At six. I plan to spend no more than fifty dollars at the Halloween store.”

Marc climbed through Tiffany’s opened window.

“I’m going up to help Tiff with the jack-o-lantern,” Max said.

His sister was wildly making out with Marc as he entered the room.

When the parade goes by without you

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While I’d still have to say my favourite of Maud Hart Lovelace’s books is Carney’s House Party, I have to give the nod to Emily Webster as my favourite of her characters. As a fellow introvert who wasn’t part of the popular crowd and didn’t come from a cushy bourgeois family, I can really relate to Emily. I also deeply relate to her as someone whose life hasn’t unfolded on the same timetable as that of most of my peers.

Emily Webster (based on Marguerite Marsh, a year older than Mrs. Lovelace but two years younger than her Doppelgänger Betsy) lost her mother in infancy and her father at two years old. Her grandparents stepped up to raise her, but her grandma died when Emily was ten years old. Now Emily lives alone on the edge of town with her grandpa Cyrus Webster, an 81-year-old Civil War vet.

Emily of Deep Valley (Deep Valley, #2) by Maud Hart Lovelace

When Emily graduates high school in 1912, all her peers head off to college—the University of Minnesota, Carleton College, Vassar, a few local schools. But because Grandpa Cyrus has no one else to take care of him, Emily is unable to pursue higher education. It’s not even something she weighs the pros and cons of. Staying with Grandpa is just something she must do without question.

Because Emily lives so far on the outskirts of town, and because she has so many heavy responsibilities, she hasn’t had the cliché kind of high school experience Betsy did. Though she is frequently invited to come along to get-togethers and events, and does take up some of these offers throughout the book, it seems obvious she’s invited more out of sympathy and obligation, and that she’s always on the periphery of this crowd.

Emily is very intelligent and serious, though, and was the only girl on the acclaimed debate team. She loves reading, history, and politics, and her dream is to become a social worker like her shero Jane Addams. Emily’s graduation speech (which she has to memorize instead of reading from a paper!) is about Ms. Addams.

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Emily does have extended family, though—her beautiful, sophisticated, glamourous second-cousin Annette, and Annette’s parents, whom Emily calls Aunt Sophie and Uncle Chester, despite not being related to them in that way. Aunt Sophie regularly has new clothes made for Emily by town dressmaker Miss Mix, and has Emily and Grandpa over for holidays.

There’s also love interest Don Walker, who was on the debate team with Emily. Over the summer, he regularly visits and discusses books. One time, he brings Emily a book of Robert Browning poetry. But it’s obvious to everyone but Emily from the jump that Don isn’t very sincere or nice.

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Emily sinks into despondency when her erstwhile friends leave for college. They’re all going places in their lives and having fun, while she’s stuck in Deep Valley as Grandpa’s full-time caretaker. At first, Emily tries to lift her spirits by attending a high school pep rally for a football game, but a comment from the new coach is like a lightning bolt that wakes her up and makes her realise she’s unhealthily clinging to the past and not moving forward into a new adult life.

Instead of going to the game, she hurries home to put her hair up in a Psyche knot. Prior, she wore her hair in a braid with a huge ribbon like an overgrown schoolgirl. Emily also gets some new hats to accommodate this change in hairstyle, and a few new clothes.

After this, it’s like a magic wand has been waved. Because she finally looks her age, Emily begins getting attention from a slightly older crowd who’s still in town. For the first time, Emily feels like she’s found her tribe, people with serious interests that match her own. One of her new friends, Cab Edwards, takes her out to several dances. (I found Cab much better-developed in this book than in the Betsy-Tacy series!)

And slowly but surely, Emily starts coming into her own and making lemonade out of the lemons life handed her. She might not be a college girl, but there are so many other rewarding things she can do, like start a Browning discussion group, help the people in Little Syria, and resume music lessons.

I really enjoyed watching Emily’s gradual growth into a strong, confident woman who knows her own mind and how to find fulfillment and happiness. I can also relate to her more than Betsy (who makes a brief appearance that really feels shoehorned in). Emily faces a lot of real challenges that aren’t easily, quickly resolved; she’s not Miss Popularity; boys aren’t beating a path to her door; and she doesn’t have class privilege.

Emily is truly Mrs. Lovelace’s most mature, complex character, with a storyline to match.