IWSG—May odds and sods

InsecureWritersSupportGroupIt’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. This month’s question is:

Have any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?

As I’ve mentioned a number of times prior, a few people in writing groups have point-blank hated my Cinnimin, one even wanting something really bad to happen to her and being happy to learn her dad dies when she’s young. It did shake me to hear such strong words about a character I’ve been with since we were eleven years old and whom so many other people have loved.

Cinni is who she is, even after significantly toning down, radically reworking, or outright removing content from my Atlantic City books which I grew to see as wildly age-inappropriate, way too over the top, and/or mean-spirited. She’s far more spice than sugar, fiesty, sassy, a straight shooter, brutally honest, at times mouthy, a self-admitted daddy’s girl.

I wouldn’t recognize Cinni if she, e.g., hugged someone who taunted her about how her dad is living on borrowed time and proceeded to sing “Kumbaya” instead of punching and yelling at that other girl. I don’t write goody-goodies with charmed, idyllic lives.

More people have loved Cinni and praised her as a great character than have hated her. Not all our stories or characters will resonate with everyone, and that’s perfectly fine.

As expected, my wordcount for Camp NaNo wasn’t that great. I set a lowball goal of only 10K to make sure I wouldn’t fail too badly. My project was continuing my radical rewrite of the book formerly known as The Very Last. Also included were a few blog posts for May.

I didn’t do any proofing of the books I’m preparing for hardcover editions in April, but I know I’m overdue to get back to them and finish up the final spot-checks already!

Also included in my wordcount were most of the notes I made for my alternative history. Seeing as I’ve never written anything Medieval before, and amn’t nearly as back-of-my-hand familiar with the 13th and 14th centuries as I am with the 19th and 20th, it’s really important to get familiar with my setting. Not just the real people and places who’ll appear, but stuff like clothing, education, and food.

Just think, no one in Medieval Europe knew chocolate existed, and Italian cuisine didn’t have tomato sauce. Eating breakfast was looked down upon by the Church as a bad habit, except for small children. There were no nightclothes. People slept nude or in garments like undershirts.

I knew this Peter Pauper Press notebook was the right one for my notes because of the peacock. According to legend, Dante’s mother, Gabriella (Bella), had a dream when she was pregnant with him that she gave birth under a laurel tree by a spring, and her son ate the berries that fell from the tree. Then he drank from the spring and turned into a peacock. This was believed to be a portent of his future greatness.

Peacocks have very positive symbolism across so many different cultures. Among other things, they represent renewal, eternal life, immortality, creativity, joy, nobility, and transcendence.

I’m really looking forward to working on this new project during JuNoWriMo. Seventeen years after I thought of the idea, I finally have a detailed story trajectory and plot points.

My tagline is “What if one of the most famous love stories in history wasn’t unrequited?”

WeWriWa—Application requested

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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, now entitled Movements in the Symphony of 1939. It was released in e-book format on March second, with a paperback edition to follow within a few months. The paperback edition will have a different cover.

I’m now in Chapter 12, “Urma’s True Colors.” Cinni was leaning out of her window in her attic bedroom when she caught Urma Smart, one of the new longterm houseguests, on the front veranda with the father of Cinni’s frenemy Adeline. Just as Cinni suspected, Mr. Myers really is in the Klan, and Urma is begging for membership.

Urma, who freely discriminates against many kinds of people, was outraged to be told the Klan doesn’t admit women to the main organization, and to hear Mr. Myers making several quite sexist comments about women in general and her in particular.

Urma growled. “Give me the application for the women’s group, and I’ll have it completed immediately. You should be thankful anyone wants to join, since Klan membership has dwindled so much since the glory days.”

Cinni turned to Sparky after Urma trotted inside. “I knew it!” she whispered. “I knew Addie’s dad was in the Klan! Everyone knows it, even if he ain’t done nothing to publicly give it away. You know what, I’m going to give her hell about this at school on Monday. Maybe then she’ll finally crack and admit what everyone has known almost since they moved to town.”

WeWriWa—Urma’s true colors

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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, now entitled Movements in the Symphony of 1939. It was released in e-book format on March second, with a paperback edition to follow within a few months. The paperback edition will have a different cover.

I’m now in Chapter 12, “Urma’s True Colors.” Cinni was leaning out of her window in her attic bedroom when she caught Urma Smart, one of the new longterm houseguests, on the front veranda with the father of Cinni’s frenemy Adeline. Just as Cinni suspected, Mr. Myers really is in the Klan, and Urma is begging for membership.

The word “can’t” shows up in all caps because the blog theme I’m currently using turns all bold italics into caps.

“Listen, lady, I have no doubts your white supremacy is for real. But you can’t join. This group is only for men, and you’re clearly not a man. Now I have important business to conduct, and can’t waste the entire day talking with a biddy. Maybe your husband wants to join?”

Urma grimaced. “My husband is going to burn in Hell at the end of his days if he doesn’t get right with God. Ever since I became a fundamentalist a few years ago, he’s refused to join me and our daughter in the one true interpretation of Christianity. I have to put up with his sass since I love him, and he’s the father of my only child.”

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

“So you invited me here, full well knowing your husband would never join the Klan, and leading me to believe I could sign up a new recruit? I never would’ve wasted my time had I known only a fool woman wanted to join.”

“This is discrimination! Christ taught women as well as men, and now you’re saying I can’t join a great group simply because I’m not a man?”

“We have a women’s auxiliary, if you’re interested, but at the present time, we don’t admit women to the main organization. This is an old boys’ club, not a knitting circle for a bunch of cackling hens.”

WeWriWa—Eavesdropping on 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, now entitled Movements in the Symphony of 1939. It was released in e-book format on March second, with a paperback edition to follow within a few months. The paperback edition will have a different cover.

I’m skipping ahead quite a bit, to the beginning of Chapter 12, “Urma’s True Colors.” Houseguests Urma and Samantha Smart have made no secret of their holier than thou fundamentalist views since they arrived at the start of March, though Urma’s husband Mortez has been nothing but kind and respectful. Sam has also angered Cinni’s aunt Lucinda by using her sewing room as a bedroom.

A few days after Pesach ended, Cinni was leaning out her window for fresh air when she caught sight of Urma standing on the front veranda with Adeline’s father Frank. Given the strong rumors about Mr. Myers’s Klan membership, and given Urma’s undisguised fire and brimstone attitudes, there was little doubt in Cinni’s mind as to what they were doing together.

“Come take a look at this, Spark. Can you hear anything they’re saying?”

“What if they see us trying to eavesdrop! We’d be in lots of trouble!”

“Ain’t no crime to eavesdrop or spy on neighbors. I do it all the time, and I love blackmailing Violet to keep her in her place. John likes to spy on neighbors too and use what blackmail he can find. Of course, he’s never caught me in a bad situation, since I’m perfect.”

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

Cinni leaned out the window as far as she could and strained her ears to pick up what Urma and Mr. Myers were saying. Sparky leaned out a little bit, but not as far.

“I want to join the KKK! It’s my right!”

WeWriWa—Hints of trouble

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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, now entitled Movements in the Symphony of 1939. It was released in e-book format on March second, with a paperback edition to follow within a few months. The paperback edition will have a different cover.

Best friends Cinnimin and Sparky (real name Katherine) were forced to take new houseguest Samantha to their friend Quintina’s birthday party. Tina is unsure about this stranger who came without a present, but let her stay. Now it’s about to become crystal-clear just how committed Sam is to fundamentalism, despite her equal fear of her mother.

Quintina was strongly based on a friend of mine. Though I’ve not seen her since 1992, I’ve never stopped thinking about her.

Sam took a seat in the living room and looked around at the dingy surroundings. The bookshelves were falling apart and stacked with a number of books missing spines; the carpets were very dirty and looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in months; the furniture was just as beat-up as the bookshelves; there was no artwork on the walls; the curtains were turning yellow from age and black from dirt; the windows were caked in dirt; and shoes, jackets, coats, handbags, and hats had been carelessly tossed in a pile off to the side of the door, instead of being stacked and hung up. The dog didn’t even wear a collar, though his fur was pure white instead of dirty like the curtains, carpets, and windows.

“See that gorgeous dreamboat over there?” Cinni whispered, trying to make normal conversation. “That’s Tina’s oldest brother, John. He’s eighteen, and I think all of us girls have a crush on him. He’s far too old for us, of course, and we’re far too young to date anyone, but it ain’t against the law to fancy a handsome older man. He knows we all have a crush on him, and it makes him feel like such a big man about town. Whoever eventually marries him will be such a lucky lady.”

“You think impure thoughts about an adult man?” Sam asked, barely bothering to keep her voice to a polite stage whisper.

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

“I never had impure thoughts about boys in my own grade, let alone an adult man!”

Cinni remained silent about her crush on thirteen-year-old Barry. If this were what Sam thought of having a fantasy crush on a much-older, completely unattainable man of the same religion and nationality, there was no telling how she’d react to hearing of Cinni’s crush on an older boy of another religion and ethnic origin.