WeWriWa—Intercepted by Urma

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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.

I’m now sharing snippets from the book formerly known as The Very Next, the chronological second of my Atlantic City books, set from March 1939 to the dawn of 1940. It underwent a radical rewrite in 2015, and I recently completed the fourth and final version. I plan on an early March release. The new title will be revealed then.

Chapter 2, “Happy Birthday, Tina,” starts when best friends Cinnimin and Sparky (real name Katherine), who live together, are about to head out to their friend Quintina’s birthday party. Then new houseguest Urma Smart sees them and delays them on their way.

An eruv is a fence, wall, or other enclosure enabling people to carry objects and push strollers in the public domain on the Sabbath. I used to live within the eruv of Albany, NY.

Saturday after lunch with her family, Sparky put on her new Mary Janes and got ready to head out to Quintina Holiday’s residence. Since there was no eruv or other type of continuous, unbroken fence, Cinni carried both of their birthday presents for Tina.

“Where are you going without Samantha?” Urma demanded.

“One of our best friends is having a birthday party,” Cinni said. “She lives behind our house. Sam wasn’t invited. No one there will know her.”

“So? You should take Samantha. She needs playmates, however secular.”

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

Cinni looked at Sam, wearing a navy blue sailor suit dress, matching giant hairbow, and black button-up boots, her long blonde hair combed straighter than a pin. “I don’t think she’ll be very popular at the party. No one there dresses like the Amish.”

“Amish?” Urma’s voice took on a sharp, ugly, accusatory edge. “Is that what you think we are? I’ll have you know we’re proper Christians, and wouldn’t dream of joining heretical groups like that! We’re such good Christians, we’ve had three baptisms! How dare you accuse us of heresy!”

WeWriWa—Pondering the future

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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.

I’m now sharing snippets from the book formerly known as The Very Next, the chronological second of my Atlantic City books, set from March 1939 to the dawn of 1940. It underwent a radical rewrite in 2015, and I recently completed the fourth and final version. I plan on a late February or early March release. The new title will be revealed then.

Best friends Cinnimin and Sparky (real name Katherine) were baking cookies when two strangers entered the kitchen. They now know these interlopers are Urma and Samantha Smart from Washington, D.C., who’ll be living in their household until further notice. Urma has lost no time in showing some very ugly true colors, though Sam is a more unknown entity for the moment.

Urma just ordered Sam to come with her, leaving Cinni and Sparky alone to ponder the strange scene they just witnessed.

“What just happened?” Cinni asked. “We’ve got three new houseguests all of a sudden, and they think they’re better than us? I don’t wanna know what exactly their religion is like, if it’s even worse than normal Methodism.”

“I hope they move out soon,” Sparky agreed. “If they’re born Americans, they can find work and a new house easier than my parents.”

“Maybe I can help Samantha become a real American girl, just like I helped you. Her mother might be mad, but she’ll have to get used to it. No one can be that set in her ways so young already.”

“What if they’re both as bad as they seem?”

The nine lines end here. A few more follow to finish the chapter.

Cinni grabbed a rolling pin and attacked a slab of chocolate dough with renewed vigor. “If they are, we’ve just become trapped in a nightmare. I ain’t looking forward to living with people who hate us before they even got to know us.”

WeWriWa—Urma gets worse

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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.

I’m now sharing snippets from the book formerly known as The Very Next, the chronological second of my Atlantic City books, set from March 1939 to the dawn of 1940. It underwent a radical rewrite in 2015, and I recently completed the fourth and final version. I plan on a late February or early March release. The new title will be revealed then.

Best friends Cinnimin and Sparky (real name Katherine) were baking cookies when two strangers entered the kitchen. They now know these interlopers are Urma and Samantha Smart from Washington, D.C., who’ll be living in their household until further notice. Urma has lost no time in showing some very ugly true colors, and just used some slurs against Sparky’s Jewish family and the Italians next door.

Mr. Filliard crossed his arms. “If you value my charity, you won’t do anything to the Smalls or Vallis or use those ugly slurs again. They’re respected neighbors and friends whose excellent character I vouch for. Now would you like to get settled in?”

“I guess we have no choice.” Urma turned around and stalked off to her suitcases. “But you’ve got another think coming if you believe my Samantha will be sharing a bedroom with a heathen. Mortez and I will find another place to put her, even if she has to sleep in a closet or the barn. I wish we had the money to dine out every day rather than profane ourselves at your table.”

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

Samantha looked at Cinni and Sparky. “Please, call me Sam. My mother usually calls me Samantha, but I prefer Sam. My real name is too long and unusual, even if Sam sounds very boyish.”

“You’re talking too much to those girls, Samantha,” Urma called. “Please get your suitcases and stop fraternizing with them if you know what’s good for you. I already know none of these people are our kind. We’re so much better than they are. If only your father had asked a less liberal friend for assistance.”

Sam turned around and went to join her mother.

WeWriWa—Rooming arrangements

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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.

I’m now sharing snippets from the book formerly known as The Very Next, the chronological second of my Atlantic City books, set from March 1939 to the dawn of 1940. It underwent a radical rewrite in 2015, and I recently completed the fourth and final version. I plan on a late February or early March release. The new title will be revealed then.

Best friends Cinnimin and Sparky (real name Katherine) were baking cookies when two strangers entered the kitchen. They introduced themselves as Urma and Samantha Smart from Washington, D.C., and said they were directed to Cinni’s house and her father. Urma, the mother, has begun showing her very ugly true colors as an intolerant fundamentalist.

Cinni’s father just came in and explained the Smarts lost their apartment to arson and need a place to stay till they find a new home.

Cinni pulled a piece of peach rock candy out of her left pocket and tossed it into her mouth. “I’m sorry they lost their apartment. They must really want a fresh start if they came all the way here ’steada staying in the D.C. area.”

“There’s too much godlessness and sin in the capital,” Urma said. “Perhaps a smaller city will be more conducive to living a perfect fundamentalist Methodist life. Samantha in particular doesn’t need any temptations, as strong as she is in her testimony.”

“Where will we be rooming, Sir?” Samantha asked Mr. Filliard. “I’m used to having a bedroom all to myself, and good Christians shouldn’t have to share a home with heathens. It’s bad enough my father isn’t religious enough.”

“You’ll be in the attic with Cinnimin and Sparky,” Mr. Filliard said.

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

“There’s also a private bathroom across the hall. Their bedroom is much larger than my own master suite, since it takes up almost the entire attic. I bet you’ll really like it.” He turned to Urma. “You and Mortez will be on the second floor, in a small bedroom my children’s nanny used to use. I won’t insult you by asking you to use the maid’s room on the first floor. When my family had a maid, she lived here in the guesthouse with our cook. That room is an extra closet now. I feel sorry for maids forced to use such small rooms.”

*********************

Though the Filliards went from riches to rags after the Stock Market crashed, and took quite awhile to chase the wolf from the door, they were able to retain their rather large house thanks to selling almost all their possessions. A few well-off friends also helped with money.

Despite the size of the house, it wasn’t considered a mansion even when the Filliards were rich. It was built and used as an upper-middle-class house for much of its long history.

IWSG—February odds and sods

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It’s time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The first Wednesday of each month, we share struggles, triumphs, quandaries, and fears.

My current foci are preparing And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away for its hardcover version and resuming the long-hiatused radical rewrite of the book formerly known as The Very Last. Within the next two weeks, I’ll start hopefully the final proof check of the hardcover version of Little Ragdoll.

Since I caught a couple of little errors and added a few new bits here and there, I’ll also be going through both manuscripts’ paperback proofs again. Why update the one but not the other, as much extra work as that creates?

I unfortunately lost an entire day of work due to my most crippling attack of dysmenorrhea in what feels like a good twenty years, but health always comes first. I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to be so completely incapacitated and in such agonizing pain.

I recently got this cute little notebook from Peter Pauper Press for outlining my rewrites of TVL and Almost As an Afterthought. Unlike the radical rewrites of the books formerly known as The Very First and The Very Next, I knew I’d be adding a LOT of new material, not mostly reworking existing chapters and filling in the blanks as necessary.

In the case of AAAA, I have to rebuild it almost from scratch. Not only are the first two drafts rather unfocused, they’re also very underwritten. I have every intention of converting that 11,000-word novelette into a full-sized novel with an actual story arc.

TVL came to 36,500 words after I transcribed it and slightly reworked it into a second draft. Of all four prequels, it’s the one I had the most fun writing, and its first draft also had a much stronger, more consistent story arc than any of the others. Because of that, and based on the extensive outline I’ve made, I predict it’ll be the longest of the four. It’s always been the one I’m proudest of.

I’ve since junked what was Chapter 3, so some of the chapter numbering is no longer in synch. I solved that problem by deciding to split the Coney Island section of the Long Island chapter into its own chapter. There are still 25 chapters in each Part, with 50 total.

I abandoned the rewrite in 2015, despite how well it was going, because I was frustrated at not finding much detailed information about the 1940 Portuguese World Exposition. The thought of researching and writing about the 1939–40 World’s Fair in Queens all over again, not that long after Dark Forest, also exhausted me. I didn’t want to do too much repeating or burn out my enthusiasm for the subject.

And yes, there is a chapter called “The Wrath of Conny,” and it is a deliberate play on The Wrath of Khan.

If lockdown ever ends, I could easily have the third draft done by the end of the year and start work on the final version. I now realize it was ultimately for the best that I put the rewrite on the back burner, since I was still too emotionally attached to the original material. Despite having no problem junking a bunch of chapters, I nevertheless held on to a few others which served no purpose.

Do you have any special notebooks, pens, or pencils for outlining stories? Would you like them? Have you ever resumed a rewrite after a long hiatus?