WeWriWa—Arrival at the Yeltsina boarding house


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 a bit after last week’s, when Inga and Yuriy got into a taxi going to Yuriy’s grandmother and aunt’s boarding house in the Russian neighborhood of Hamilton Heights.

On the drive up, Inga asked Yuriy if he were married and had children, and was very surprised to learn a 23-year-old man has never had a real girlfriend. Yuriy has had a few dates here and there, but nothing leading to going steady. He claims women don’t like red hair, though Inga thinks he’s rather attractive.

Yuriy taps her on the shoulder when the taxi stops in front of a five-story wooden building. “This is my babushka and aunt’s boarding house.  I’ll make sure you get a room.”

After Yuriy helps her out of the taxi and pays the chauffeur, he lifts her onto her luggage again and wheels her towards the door.  He turns her around and wheels her in backwards, then takes her to the desk.  Inga immediately knows why Yuriy’s aunt is a spinster when she sees how fat this woman is.  Yuriy’s grandmother easily looks about ten years older than Inga’s grandparents, though perhaps some of that is due to the turmoil of surviving the Civil War.

Babushka, Tyotya Zina, you’ll never believe who this is.  Ginny Kharzin had a child with Georgiya Savvina when she was here for Tyotya Lyuba’s wedding.  She just hurt her knee pretty badly, so she’ll need to relax and maybe have some pain medication before she does anything else.”

Zina was engaged in her twenties, but her fiancé was murdered by the Bolsheviks. Though her older sister Valya finally married at 39 (to a man thirteen years her junior) and had three kids before time ran out, Zina never had another relationship. Her life is running the boarding house with her mother.

Zina is well aware of how she’s a large woman, and likes to say she had too many pelmeni (the Russian version of pierogi) when she was a girl. She was the one who helped Yuriy escape to North America when he was a baby, after his mother was taken to an orphanage.


WeWriWa—Taxi ride


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 a bit after last week’s, when Yuriy realized he knows Inga’s father’s family very well. He then told her a bit about how their two families met, and how Inga’s paternal grandmother helped to reunite him and his young mother when he was a baby.

Inga then discovered she knows Yuriy’s blood father as well, a right scoundrel serving a well-deserved 25-year sentence in Siberia. Among the many things he was put away for were raping and impregnating an 11-year-old (Yuriy’s mother). This unexpected information came out during his interrogation, and enraged all three of his interrogators.

Yuriy and his mother Lena, who was only twelve when he was born, don’t like to think about the circumstances of his creation.

Source; Copyright Adam Wilcock

Yuriy stands up and extends his hands. “If it hurts too much to walk, you can ride on your luggage, or I can carry you on my back, if you’re comfortable with that.”

The moment she’s standing again, waves of pain shoot through Inga’s right leg.  She hops along and lets Yuriy set her on top of her luggage.  As he pushes her along the streets, she feels like a small child riding in a pram.

Yuriy holds out his arm for the first approaching taxi.  After the taxi comes to a stop, Yuriy opens the back door for her and helps her inside, making sure not to move her injured leg too much.  Once he puts her luggage in the trunk, he joins her in the backseat and speaks to the chauffeur in English.  Inga hopes he really is on the level and isn’t taking her to some abandoned building to murder her.  So far he seems very nice and genuine, in addition to knowing her father’s family, but a young girl can never be too careful when alone in a big city.

IWSG—Some odds and sods


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group meets the first Wednesday of each month. Participants share struggles, triumphs, quandaries, and fears. This month’s question is:

How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/finish a story?

When there was still an APP-certified piercer in my area, I liked going for a piercing to reward myself. I got my third lobe piercings done after I finished Journey Through a Dark Forest, and I got my navel done for finishing the first 50K of NaNo in 2015.

Sadly, I had to retire my navel piercing 8.5 months later, due to obvious, advanced rejection. It was healing beautifully, and my very honest piercer said I had the perfect navel to pierce (since it had a great shelf to support it), but I suspect my increasing weight gain started the rejection process.

I’ve lost at least 30 pounds since last June, and am almost back to the weight I was when I had my navel done. I’ll definitely be getting it repierced in the autumn or winter! When I’m back in an area with an APP piercer, I’ll resume getting piercings to mark writing goals.

My awesome piercer pointed me towards this purple opal navel bar, since he knew purple is my signature color. The redness has been replaced by white scar tissue.

I spent February focusing on A Dream Deferred, my fourth Russian historical, and am now nearing the final sections of Chapter 38. After the longer than average Chapter 33, my chapters were short and mid-length (by my standards), and now Chapter 38 is on the long side again.

I need to get back to my alternative history, and I plan to divide my writing time between that and A Dream Deferred. If only I didn’t have to go to a library to get most of my writing done. I keep hoping I’ll be out of this place by summer, with my privacy and independence restored.

Obviously, these initial chapter-by-chapter notes are just a working outline. I’ve added many more chapters, storylines, and characters since making these notes in summer 2015.

I think I’ve given up on the biweekly writing group that meets at various local libraries. I felt like I were intruding on an established gang of friends, and no one really talked to me. The critiques are also rather superficial, since people make comments during the meetings instead of annotating the work and sending it back. There’s no chance to give a full, honest critique of any submissions.

Some of them need an editor or experienced critique partner more than praise and light corrections from friends. One guy complained about a woman who only came to one meeting and critiqued everyone’s grammar, punctuation, etc., and someone else said that was nitpicky and should be saved for an editor.

If you don’t have a grasp on basic grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, etc., I can’t focus on the actual story. I can overlook, e.g., problems with comma usage, its vs. it’s, or the occasional run-on or awkward wording if the overall story is strong, but that’s not the case here.

I miss my writing group back in NY, which meets weekly, welcomes new people, knows how to critique properly, and has real conversations between sprints.

Would you quit going to a writing group if you didn’t click with it?


WeWriWa—Inga meets Yuriy


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 right after last week’s, when Yuriy invited Inga to stay by the boarding house his grandmother and spinster aunt Zina run in the heavily Russian neighborhood of Hamilton Heights.

Yuriy suggests he might know Inga’s father, since his family has a lot of friends in the New York Russian community. Once she says her father’s name, Yuriy realizes their families’ deep connection.

“My father’s name is Mikhail Mikhaylovich Kharzin.  I hope he and his parents don’t think I’m a liar or that my mother was a whore, since they never knew about me, and my mother was sixteen and unmarried when I was conceived.”

Yuriy smiles at her. “I certainly do know your father and his family, and even if they do judge you for how you were born, I won’t judge you.  I was born outside of marriage myself, and my mother was even younger than yours.  I have a much better stepfather now, whom I consider my real father.  Knowing Ginny’s mother, she’ll probably have several heart attacks when she finds out her only child went and procreated outside of marriage as a teenager.  So this means your mother must be Georgiya Savvina.  I guess your name’s Savvina too.”


Ginny’s parents were Orthodox Christian missionaries in East Prussia before World War I. Though they’re very progressive, they nevertheless live by a strong moral code. They’re also very loving and forgiving, and understand sometimes people do things, or things happen to people, that aren’t always the perfect Orthodox ideal.


WeWriWa—Inga meets Yuriy

Happy heavenly 75th birthday to George Harrison! May his beautiful light shine forever.


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 right after last week’s, as 18-year-old Inga and 23-year-old Yuriy have continued getting acquainted.

Inga has just told Yuriy the scar he noticed above her knee is from her smallpox vaccination, not a recent injury. Now Yuriy is about to realize he knows Inga’s father’s family very well.

Inga pulls her skirt back over her knees. “Would you mind directing me to these people I have to meet, or at least a decent hotel in the meantime?  The papers with the contact information are in my larger bag.”

“You shouldn’t have to immediately conduct business when you just got here.  I’m here on furlough to visit my babushka, aunts, and cousins.  My spinster aunt and babushka run a boarding house in Hamilton Heights for fellow Russians.  They’ll treat you nicely, and you can relax there.  Perhaps I know your father, assuming he’s also Russian.  I live in Toronto, but my family has a lot of friends in New York.  I lived here during my first few months in North America, when I was too young to remember.”