WIP Exerpt

When I’m occupied with thinking about current projects, sometimes it’s hard to come up with a blog post. So today, I’m cheating. Here’s the opening of my NaNo novel. (I’m currently calling it Eureka Steam, but that will likely change.)

—–

Shelly Parks reapplied her maroon lipstick and studied her reflection in the restroom mirror. I should be the one babysitting for Paige and Ricky instead of the other way around, she thought as she pushed the door open. She almost ran into someone before her eyes adjusted to the dim light in the bar.

“Sorry.” She backed up a step and stumbled.

“Careful.” He caught her elbow and held her upright until she felt stable. His deep voice since shivers down her spine.

“Thanks.” She smiled in spite of herself and straightened her hat. Who knew a few gears could be so heavy? “I…I knew I should have stayed home. I’m no good at places like this.”

He laughed and gestured to the rest of the room with his left arm, wrapped in armor. “Who is? But that’s the fun of it.”

“Maybe.”

He let go of her elbow.

You didn’t have to do that.

“How about a dance before they do last call?”

“I…”

“Don’t dance? Me neither.”

“Okay.”

He tipped his hat to her, adjusted his monocle, and offered his unarmored arm.

She accepted and walked with him to the dance floor, hoping her skirts wouldn’t trip her up. One song ended as they got to the edge of the dance floor. After a short pause, another started. “What is this?”

Her companion laughed. “It’s steampunk music.”

“It sounds…weird.”

“Some people think so.”

“How do you dance to it?”

He pointed to a couple nearby, moving with exaggerated stiffness. “Like them.”

She shrugged. “I can do that.”

They danced to that song and the next one before he led her off the dance floor. “I’ve got to go. Early morning tomorrow.” He glanced at a clock above the bar. “Today.” He grimaced.

“Me too.”

“Thanks for making tonight more enjoyable.” He paused.

“Shelly.”

“Shelly,” he repeated and smiled. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”

“I certainly hope so.”

“Mitch.” He saluted her and left.

The next morning, Shelly poured herself a cup of coffee and wished she hadn’t stayed out quite so late. She took a sip as her phone rang.

“Parks residence.”

“Shelly, you need to come to the store,” her shop manager Meagan said. She sounded frantic. “I’ve already called the police. They’re sending someone over too. Someone broke in overnight.”

“You’re sure?” She put the coffee mug down. The ceramic clunked on the formica.

“Uh-huh.”

Oh, hell! Most of her inventory was in the shop. She had hoped to spend the day in her clay studio, but it didn’t look like that would happen.

“Are you coming?”

“Yeah. Give me about 10 minutes and I’ll be there.”

“OK.”

She hung up, hurried to the bathroom, and looked at her reflection. “Nice wash job, Shel,” she muttered. Maroon lipstick was smeared around her mouth and she had raccoon eyes from the dark eye makeup. She washed her face, put her hair in a ponytail, and dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt.

In front of the shop, she turned her flashers on and put the car in park. The “Shelly’s Shack” sign on the open door framed a hole. She shook her head and walked in.

“There she is,” Meagan said.

“I’m sorry I’m late.”

“It wouldn’t be late if someone hadn’t busted in your door, now would it?” a familiar voice asked.

She felt the same tremors down her spine as she had the night before. Mitch? She rounded the corner.

“Good morning, Ms.—Shelly?” Mitch looked up from his notepad.

Funny. Last night I never noticed he was bald. “That’s me.”

“You two know each other?” Meagan asked.

“We met last night,” Shelly explained. “I’ll tell you later.” She turned her attention to the police officer. “We went to the bank last night at closing, so there wasn’t much cash for anyone to take.”

He nodded. “Whoever it was… Well…. I think it was personal.” He moved away from the display case in front of the cash register. The pottery there had been shattered. “I need you to go over your inventory and see what else was damaged or taken.”

“I will.” Shelly blinked. Who? Why?

“Okay. I just need your contact number and I’ll be done here.”

She gave him her home and cell phone numbers. She watched him write them down and leave.

“Shel?”

“What?”

“You okay?”

No. “Call Paige. I think I need her help.”

Grinding Gears

Image used courtesy of The Public Speaking Project under a Creative Commons license.
Image used courtesy of The Public Speaking Project under a Creative Commons license.

There’s a saying about people who are new to driving a standard and have trouble finding their gears.

“If you can’t find ’em, grind ’em.”

I feel like that’s happening to my mind today.

Earlier I said I’m stretching my skill set. My grandpa said, “You’re expanding your skill set.”

He’s right.

It’s a matter of perspective.

Stretching a skill set implies that it’s temporary and that I would forget it soon after I no longer need it.

Expanding a skill set, on the other hand, implies that I am learning things that will be beneficial to me in the long run and it won’t be something I would soon forget.

Since I have often said that I am a perpetual student, I much prefer the latter.

In the meantime, I’ll be grinding gears until it becomes second nature. Much like driving a stick-shift.

Treat #3

Photo used under Creative Commons from wwarby
Photo used under Creative Commons from wwarby

Happy Halloween!

Are you ready for treat #3? I bet you are or you wouldn’t be here, right?

For the longest time, writing the query letter was the hardest thing for me. Then I figured out how to SLAP it together.

Summarize the article.
List your qualifications.
Ask for the assignment.
Provide a portfolio/clips.

Today’s give-away tells you how to follow each of the steps to write effective query letters.

SLAP Your Queries

Overwhelm

Creative Commons via catchingcourage.com
Creative Commons via catchingcourage.com

In a conversation with my mother earlier, I mentioned that when I think about everything I have to do tomorrow, I feel overwhelmed.

She said I’ll get over it. And she’s right.

I’ve decided that when you take on anything new, there is always a learning curve (or a RElearning curve, as the case may be). I’m in that now. Yes, I know how to use AP style. I know the format for news stories. I’m having to relearn part of it though. This goes along with “The Wheels Are Turning” post from the other day.

Today was more…intense, I guess, than I expected. The assistant editor was back from vacation and trained me on how to do area briefs and obituaries. I worked on an article that I did the research and interview for on Friday. I learned the proper form for submitting my invoices to AR. I want to go over the article I was working on one more time before I call it done. I’m actually pretty happy with it.

Tomorrow, I need to come up with some interview questions for an entirely different subject, do the interview, type my notes, and finish a Halloween round-up article that I’ve been collecting information for.

Can I do it all tomorrow? I think so. Part of it, I have to.

I guess the point of all of this is to say that with my calendar, notebook, and revamped skill set, I’ve got this.

What are you working on that causes you to feel overwhelmed from time to time? I can pretty well guarantee you’ve got it — whatever “it” is — too.

The Best-Laid Plans

Used under a Creative Commons license.
Used under a Creative Commons license.

Sometimes plans change and drive us nuts. Other times, they change and we know it will be so much for the better.

This is one of those times. The better one, that is. Though I have no doubt it will drive me nuts sometimes, too. (That’s easy to do when you’re already more than halfway there.)

A few weeks ago, I had applied for a job I really wanted. Then I went to Eureka Springs for two weeks. I thought I’d get the call for an interview while I was gone. Instead, the call came two days after I got back.

I went to the interview and it went great. To fast forward a little bit, I didn’t get the full-time job I wanted. Instead, I got offered a long-term contract position.

That will actually work out for the better. And it will also allow me to pursue other ideas and personal projects I thought of while I was in Eureka Springs.

Yes, plans changed, but so much for the better. I’m excited about the possibilities. I’ll keep you posted on how this all goes.

 

Conference Session Handouts

Photo (c) 2013 Joyce Nipps
Photo (c) 2013 Joyce Nipps

As promised, here are the two handouts I provided during my session at the Ozark Creative Writers’ conference earlier this month.

The first includes a list of places you can get your business cards, brochures, etc. The second is an article listing seven networking opportunities for freelancers.

There’s a bonus for you, too.

I had typed the real-world applications section of the session. I’ve converted that to a PDF as well and loaded that for you here also.

(Yes, there is a typo in the title of the 7 Networking Opportunities for Writers. It’s only in the link and would result in a broken link if I were to fix it now.)

7 Netowrking Opportunities for Freelancers
Networking handout
networking speech

I hope you can get some benefit from them. Feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email if you have any questions. My email address is in both the Networking handout and networking speech.

The Hurrieder I Go, the Behinder I Get

I got home from Eureka Springs last Sunday. Yes. It will be a week tomorrow. I had a couple hours of rest on Sunday, and then I hit it running after that. It has been a combination of things I planned, things I didn’t plan, and even some things that were unexpected, but it has all been good.

It has given me one excuse after another not to blog, though.

I keep planning to post some highlights from my session at the conference. Due to operator error (mine, not my friend who I asked to push the button), my session was not recorded. I didn’t set the camera up properly.

Here’s what I’m going to do instead. I will convert my handouts to PDF files tomorrow morning and post them here.

In the meantime, what am I going to do to combat forgetting to blog? I’m going to go back to writing things down. No, I haven’t gotten away from that, but I haven’t written down my blog schedule for the rest of the month either. That will happen tomorrow.