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.

WeWriWa—Finally an explanation

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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, just started showing her very ugly true colors.

Copyright Dr. Bernd Gross

Samantha stepped forward and eyed the three large cooling cookie sheets stuffed to the gills with treats, temptingly advertising chocolate, apricot, raspberry, strawberry, and apple fillings. “May I have some cookies? I’ve never seen cookies like this before, but they look so delicious.”

“They’re called hamantaschen,” Sparky explained. “These cookies are supposed to look like the three-cornered hat worn by Haman, the villain in the Book of Esther. The holiday of Purim is coming up, so we’re making them to celebrate.”

“I’ve never heard of that holiday,” Urma said.

“It’s a Jewish holiday, Ma’am.”

Both visitors shrieked as Mr. Filliard came into the room from the other side.

“Who are these people?” Cinni asked her belovèd father.

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

“They introduced themselves, but didn’t tell us what they’re doing here or why they want to see you.” She refrained from asking the more impolite question, why someone who didn’t even look thirty had a child who appeared the same age as herself and Sparky. Later on, if the Smarts remained in town, she could suss out the details of that dirty laundry.

Mr. Filliard sank into a chair and rubbed his temples. “I hate to bring in new longterm houseguests without telling you well in advance, but this was very last-minute. I’m friends with Urma’s husband Mortez, and when he told me they lost their apartment to arson and were looking for a more permanent home in another city anyway, I felt it was my duty to give them a place to stay. I can’t say no to a friend.”

WeWriWa—Houseguests are coming

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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 switching to the book formerly known as The Very First, which releases next week. I’ll finally reveal the new and improved title then.

The book opens in August 1938, as young Cinnimin Filliard prepares to meet the family her father helped to bring to America and will be indefinitely putting up in their large house. During the last major edit, I made the age of Cinni and her friends deliberately ambiguous. At most, it’s stated they’re under twelve. How old do you think she is, and what’s the youngest you could picture her as?

Cinnimin Filliard reached for the candy bowl on her father’s desk and popped a handful of gumdrops into her mouth. Five longterm houseguests were moving in today, and indulging her sweet tooth would help to get rid of her nervousness and put her mind on other things.

“Can I see your photo albums, Daddy? I wanna know what they look like before they move in. I hope they’re nicer houseguests than Aunt Lucinda, Uncle Jasper, and stupid Elmira.”

Mr. Filliard smiled indulgently at his pet child, his deep brown eyes twinkling. “Since when have I ever said no to you?”

Cinni took a photo album and plopped onto the floor. “Oh, brother, this Katharina girl really needs a makeover. No one wears long skirts anymore.”

The first ten lines end here. A few more follow.

She pushed her long curly hair out of her face. “Who better than the Most Popular Girl to make her over?”

“Religious Jews do things a little differently. You might not understand it, but Katharina has reasons of her own, just as you have your reasons for going against the fashion for shorter hair.”

WeWriWa—A joint holiday celebration

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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. This year, my Chanukah- and Christmas-themed snippets come from Chapter 20, “Dueling December Holidays,” of the book formerly known as The Very First (which is set during 1938). The new and improved title will finally be revealed upon its release next year!

There have been a lot of religious conflicts during December 1938, as young immigrant Sparky (real name Katherine) and her family are inundated with symbolism of a holiday they don’t celebrate, and a variety of responses to their refusal to adopt Christmas as a secular holiday “everyone” celebrates. However, Sparky’s family has agreed to come together with their hosts the Filliards for a joint celebration of the eighth night of Chanukah and Christmas Eve.

This has been slightly tweaked to fit 10 lines.

Painting by Yelena Flerova

The Smalls had brought schnitzel, Kartoffelpuffer, chicken soup, brisket, candied carrots, bolussen, applesauce, and, best of all, plenty of Berliner Pfannkuchen, while on the Filliards’ side of the table sat roasted goose with stuffing; dried fruit compote; mushroom soup; gołąbki; pierogi stuffed with chopped mushrooms and mashed potatoes; kotlety; stuffed mushrooms; mazurek stuffed with dried almonds, chocolate, and apricot jam; chocolate sernik; zefiry; and several heaping platters of cookies. There’d be more than enough for everyone.

“You don’t know what you’re missing,” Mrs. Filliard said as she cut into a gołąbek. “You’ve been generous to share your food, and oughta taste some of ours in return.”

“Perhaps next year, we can cook by your recipes in our kitchen,” Mrs. Small said.

“It’s ‘with,’ not ‘by,’” Gary gently corrected her. “You’re making the mistake of directly translating a German expression into English. Sometimes being too literal results in improper English.”

“My mother and I made that mistake too, when we were learning English,” Mr. Filliard said. “That expression translates from Russian the same way it does from German, and it took a long time for me to realize I wasn’t being grammatically correct.”

Kartoffelpuffer are German latkes; bolussen are Dutch sweet rolls; Berliner Pfannkuchen are jelly doughnuts. Among the traditional Polish and Russian Christmas foods, gołąbki are cabbage leaves wrapped around a savory filling (usually including meat); kotlety are small, pan-fried meatballs; mazurek is a sweet, flat cake; sernik is cheesecake made with quark; and zefiry are similar to meringues.