Happy Halloween!— WeWriWa: Halloween surprises

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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.

It’s now near the end of Halloween night, and Mr. Seward’s stepdaughters and younger children have finally come home from trick-or-treating. He’s very displeased, to say the least, when he learns about what happened without his knowledge or permission.

“It’s eleven-thirty!” Mr. Seward raged. “Where have you been all night? It never took that long to trick-or-treat before!”

“We were at the older kids’ party at school a lot of that time,” Harold said.

“Gene ran off, and we searched everywhere!” Cora Ann yelled. “When his mother dropped him off at the party, neither of them apologized for scaring us so much.”

“Mommy gave me really good candy and cocoa,” Gene said. “I got bored of trick-or-treating, and it was cold, so I decided to visit her.”

“That was illegal!” Mr. Seward shouted, shaking his fist in the air. “Clara knows damn well I have full custody and that she’s not allowed to see you again unless it’s by accident in public!”

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

Gene peeled the paper off of a candybar and began eating it. “I don’t care if you tan my hide for visiting Mommy. We had a lot of fun, and I’ll visit her again whenever I feel like it. She missed her favorite child.”

“Clara said many times she had no interest in motherhood, and made no attempt to even pretend to care in all those years before our divorce. Even her spoiling of you was constantly interrupted by her many trips abroad with her much-younger lovers. I refuse to believe she’s had a radical change of heart after so much time.”

“I’m sleepy, Daddy,” Amy whimpered.

“Who are you?” Mr. Seward asked. “Did you follow my kids home?” He took a double-take.  “Four strange kids followed you home!”

“What?” Adeladie asked. “Who? There are only ten of us, not fourteen.”

“My God!” he went on. “Where are the other four quints? Did somebody steal them?  Who’s the only quint here?”

“All the quints are here. Take off their costumes if you don’t believe me.”

Mr. Seward yanked the sheet off the ghost to reveal Andrew. Peggy was underneath the seal costume, Paula was under the peanut, and Amy was under the marshmallow.

“Quints, that was terrible, dressing in different costumes! You are not individuals! I’ll have some serious words with Elaine when she comes home, since she was the one who bought you these costumes instead of all five clown outfits.” His jaw clenched as he pointed at the staircase. “Go on up to bed, all of you. Thanks to Gene’s stunt, it’s well past all your bedtimes.”

WeWriWa—Pumpkin antics with the Sewards


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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 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

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.

WeWriWa—Happy 110th birthday, Lou!

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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. In honor of what would’ve been Lou Costello’s 110th birthday, I present an abridged version of a scene from the first book in my series focused on Max Seward’s colorful blended family. Its original title was the beyond-generic New Beginnings, and I haven’t thought of a new and improved title yet in all these years. The manuscript is probably in third place in my overflowing queue, waiting on a radical rewrite and restructuring. It’s currently in its third draft, and in dire need of editing out all the embarrassing garbage and clutter that never should’ve stuck around past the first draft!

It’s late June 1941, and yesterday Max’s father remarried to his longtime secret mistress and left for a honeymoon. Max, his three siblings, and their cousin Elaine are now home alone with three new stepsisters who’ve acted like brats from day one. The day goes from bad to worse when Max and Elaine are forced to take the girls on their double date to the neighborhood’s most expensive movie palace. Max wants to see The Big Store with the Marx Brothers, but he’s overruled in favor of Abbott and Costello’s In the Navy. The stepsisters act up so obnoxiously Max’s group flees to an unoccupied balcony, but things are about to get worse yet again.

Abbott-Costello-In-The-Navy

My boy Shemp is the one on the far left!

The peace and quiet offered by the balcony was short-lived, as barely five minutes later, some girl stood up, pointed at the screen, and yelled, “That’s not nice!  He’s being mean to his best friend!” Max froze in his seat when he realized that girl was Adeladie.

Cora Ann began crying. “He’s being mean to the fat guy!”

Max stormed down from the balcony and elbowed his way back to their original seats, ignoring the resulting angry shouts. “Don’t you know the difference between real life and make-believe?”

“Laurel and Hardy are never this mean to each other, and it’s obvious they’re always friends!” Adeladie shouted. “I don’t think that tall handsome guy has any kind of brotherly love for the short fat guy when push comes to shove!”

“It’s part of their routine,” Max explained through clenched teeth.

Abbott-Costello-1946_l

The tables are uncharacteristically turned!

Cora Ann

Please be forewarned, if this kind of thing offends you, that this post includes examples of a young girl cursing, though it’s meant in a satirical, humorous way.

Name: Cora Ann Campbell

Date of birth: 1 January 1938

Place of birth: Vermont

Year I created her: 1991

Role: Main character, Not Protagonist (except for one book)

Cora Ann is the middle of Max’s three stepsisters. In June 1941, at the age of three and a half, she moves from Vermont to the Seward mansion in Atlantic City, and grows up calling Mr. Seward Stepdaddy and considering Max and his siblings as good as her two sisters. I always thought Cora Ann was so cute, this little girl with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a little girl voice. Her cute image is hilariously belied by the coarse language and naughty behavior she approvingly picks up from Max and Elaine. (Well, I never said my Atlantic City books are meant to be taken as straight historical fiction. They’re also a mix of social satire and spoof, and full of absurdist, dark humor so over the top it’s meant to be funny and not taken seriously. Sort of like some of the humorous situations on shows like American Dad or The Simpsons. You know it’s not realistic, so you laugh instead of bitching about how that could never happen or never would have happened in real life.)

Though she equally participates in all the hilarious misadventures the Seward-Campbell family has during the Forties, she’s still a child while Max and Elaine are coming of age. I’m looking forward to writing the 35th book, where she takes the lead, Not a Child Anymore. It’s going to open in June of 1954, when she’s 16 and a half. During the annual vacation at Bambi’s beach home, she meets and starts dating a longhaired guitarist named Tony Cooper. Everyone is so used to seeing and thinking of Cora Ann as a child, so it’s an eye-opening experience for everyone when they come home from shopping and find Cora Ann and Tony having sex on a tiger skin rug in the living room!

Cora Ann gets pregnant, and Bambi and Mr. Seward say they’ll take care of the situation without ruining her reputation or the family’s good name. Mr. Seward also forbids her to marry Tony, whom he could never stand. Cora Ann stands up for herself as an adult and runs away from home with her baby, Deena, to elope with Tony. She won’t stand for being hidden away like an animal, telling everyone a lie about what she was really doing when she was away, or letting her relationship be ruined the way Elaine’s relationship with her second boyfriend, Roger Wilkes, the great love of her life, was ruined when everyone interfered. No one’s going to push her around as though she’s still the little girl who first walked into the Seward mansion in 1941.

Some cute, typical, and favorite Cora Ann lines written to date:

(When she and Adeladie are upset by Abbott and Costello’s In the Navy) Cora Ann began crying. “He’s being mean to the fat guy!”

“My resolution is to stop giving a penny to the collection basket at church and to instead give to it a piece of lint,” Cora Ann said.

“I just knew it!  I just knew those quints were ours!” Cora Ann wept.

“Wanna see real hair of clowny lady,” Cora Ann said. “And five boy clownies.” (Cora Ann is always asking clowns to show her their real hair.)

“I’m already on my second sundae!” Cora Ann said proudly. “I ate my fruit salad so quickly and didn’t go back for seconds just so I could save some room for the good stuff!”

“Stay the hell away from our quintsies!  You might give ‘em old man disease an’ they’d be doomed!” Cora Ann shouted.

“Can I have a chocolate lolly, Grandpa Stan?  I saw you giving ‘em to the boys earlier.” Cora Ann went over and put on a sad puppy dog face.

(While the children are talking about the Christmas presents they tried to guess the identity of) “I think I shook up something that was cookies,” Cora Ann confessed. “I hope nonea them broke.”

“Going to the lavatory is dirty and disgusting.  You have to touch yourself, and that’s perverted,” Cora Ann scoffed.

“No, Gene locked himself in the attic,” Cora Ann said, finding Elaine’s wig and putting it on. “Leave him there to die!”

“My snowsuit is riding up my ass,” Cora Ann piped up.

“There ain’t no Santa?” Cora Ann asked sadly.

“A sleigh ride pulled by reindeer?” Cora Ann asked excitedly.

“You stink!” Cora Ann declared loudly and angrily. “Who do you think you are, screwin’ us outta our Winter vacation and making me miss out on the reindeer sled ride tomorrow?!”

“Gene fucked it up!” Cora Ann announced angrily. “It’s all his fault!”

(Going to see the mall Santa near the end of 1943, because this strange town keeps the Santa there for Eastern Orthodox kids and for disgruntled kids who hate what Santa got them and want refunds) “I’m bitter and furious, Santa!” Cora Ann shouted when she came by a few days after Adeladie’s birthday by surprise. “My family’s Christmas was really shitty and our tree was ruined and we had to go an’ find all the presents ourselves, all ‘cause our parents weren’t there, and we woulda had ourselves a fine nice little Christmas if my wicked stepbrother Eugene hadn’t fucked everything up when we were at the skiing resort!”

(As Elaine’s increasingly less secret boyfriend Roger, the mall Santa, is beating up Gene) “Way to go Santa!” Cora Ann cheered. “You just granted onea my wishes!”

(While on an open house) “Do these lovely toys come with the mansion?” Cora Ann asked.

“I can’t wait till it’s finished being built!” Cora Ann declared in her little girl voice. “They have a spa in the bathroom!”

“Lookit!  Bicycles!” Cora Ann went dashing off to a gigantic display of bikes, yanked away a big pink one to her liking, and began riding it through the store, barely able to stay on the seat.  She rode it into a number of toy displays, at first by accident, then on purpose.

(Upon learning her youngest child Mitchell has mysteriously gone missing in Australia in 1998) “Run a story about what’s happened to Mitchell!” Cora Ann wailed. “Those damn Australians have not heard the end of the Sewards, Campbells, or Blacks.”

“I’ve kept these old photos on my wall all these years,” Cora Ann said, choking up. “Me and [name redacted] at my high school graduation practice in 1956, just a few months before she died, and [name] holding Deena when she was a baby. She wrote on the back of that picture how she couldn’t wait for her to grow up and how much fun she’d have playing and hanging out with her. I know Ladie still keeps a photo on her own wall of [name] holding Lisbeth as a baby. It makes me sick that that murderer got away with it and that Luke is steamrolling ahead with his plans to rape her soul.”