Excerpt – Spencer 1928

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Spencer 1928 is the working title, although I’m getting closer to a real title.
Emma and her friends play a practical joke on Edwin and his friends, who are camping out.

EXT. BACKYARD – NIGHT

Other than the CRACKLE of the glowing remnants of the FIRE, all is silent at the camp. The empty cardboard box that once held the birthday cake smolders near the fire, ready to burst into flame at any moment.

Emma, Betty, and Mildred tiptoe into camp dressed in white with powder on their faces and in their hair. Emma peeks into Edwin’s tent and smiles. Betty and Mildred check the other three tents. All three girls give a thumbs up.

Emma and Mildred quietly cover each tent with a blanket-sized piece of gauzy material and Betty tacks the material to the ground.

As Betty places the last tack the CARDBOARD BOX POPS as it bursts into flames directly behind her. Startled, she squeals and twirls around.

Mildred sprints from the trees and tosses the burning box onto the campfire. She glares at Betty and puts her finger to her lips.

Betty rolls her eyes and shrugs. She grabs a bucket from behind a tent and pours half of the water in it on the smoldering FIRE, causing it to SIZZLE. She jams the half-full bucket in the fire pit.

Emma joins them. Betty mouths the word READY. Both Emma and Mildred nod. Betty grabs another bucket, this one near the trees, and empties the contents, two small, brick-like objects, into the bucket of water. Immediately after they PLOP into the WATER a fog rolls out of the bucket and spreads across the ground.

Betty grins. Emma and Mildred gleefully nod in response.

The three girls pull out more of the gauzy material, drape it over their heads, and position themselves around what was once the campfire. Mildred nods, Emma gives several hard yanks on a rope.

A cacophony of CLANGS and BANGS assault the silence. In three of the tents figures spring through the openings, only to get caught in the gauze. They struggle to rip through.

Once free they see the terrifying sight of three ghosts cavorting in a deadly mist. The three figures run, yelling from the yard.

The girls break into laughter. Emma catches sight of Edwin’s tent and stops.

MILDRED
Did you see them?

Emma stares at Edwin’s tent.

BETTY
Big, tough David yelled like a baby.

Emma rushes to Edwin’s tent and touches the gauze, which is exactly where she placed it.

MILDRED
Wonder if they’ll tell anyone this story?

EMMA
Betty. Mildred. Come here.

Emma’s serious face wipes the smiles off of the two girls’ faces. They join Emma at Edwin’s tent. She points at the gauze.

EMMA
Did he sleep through this?

Betty and Mildred shrug. Emma rips the gauze down and sticks her head inside the tent. Betty and Mildred follow suit.

EMMA
Where’s my brother?

Fall traditions

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Fall wouldn’t be fall without a trip to the corn maze with family.

After a few turns in the maze my family’s natural competitiveness came out to play and it turned into a contest. Two of my daughters  branched off and zipped through super fast.

But they had neglected to stop at all the checkpoints and answer the questions, so it was another daughter who got the most points.

Not that it really mattered, because everyone won, really. It was a gorgeous day!

After the maze we hit the pumpkin patch. Which seemed to be neverending!

Just right for pumpkin pie (I hope).

 

Time traveling pasta

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See this innocent-looking box of pasta? I bought it at the grocery store about a month ago and put it in my pantry for emergencies. Not my normal brand, but it was cheap.

I’m a label reader. Before I opened the box I automatically checked the expiration date.

I was so surprised by what I saw that I had to show it to my husband after I read it 3 times.

This box of pasta expired nearly 7 years ago. October of 2010, to be exact!

Now I know the store is VERY careful about pulling expired merchandise, which means…

TIME TRAVEL DOES EXIST!

But who, or what, is doing it?

Was the pasta sent here as a test? An experiment with an inanimate object to make sure all was safe before a human jumped through time?

Or is that box of pasta the beginning of an invasion?

If I hadn’t checked the expiration date, I would have tossed those noodles straight into a pot of boiling water.

The water would have reanimated the noodle creatures, setting them free and allowing them the flexibility they’d need to take over the world.

Bwa ha ha ha!

I can see them now. Slimy creatures that creep through each neighborhood, intent on destroying any non-wheat based creature that gets in their way.

Shiver!

We can’t let it happen.

We’ve got to band together and check those expiration dates.

It’s the only way we can stop the noodle invasion.

 

Treasure Trove (working title)

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A few months ago I had every intention of starting a new screenplay. I thought through characters, plot, themes, and even a twist or two.

Then I dropped the ball. Not only did I not start the screenplay, but I failed to write down even a sentence to remind myself of all that brain work I’d done.

When life got exciting most of what I’d worked out got shoved out of my head. POOF, gone!

So today, I began again. It isn’t much, but it is enough to get me going. I think instead of my normal outline-like-crazy method I’ll just go with the flow. Any mistakes I make I can fix in the rewrites.

Excerpt:

INT. AMUSEMENT PARK RIDE – DAY
Water ride filled with robotic characters, trunks full of fake jewels, and a constant line of rider-filled boats.

AUDREY, 20s, on a mission to have fun, grips the bar and grimaces as the boat halts beneath a huge beam that has been made to look like it will crack any second. The BEAM CRACKS, shifts downward toward the riders’ heads, the boat moves on just in time. Audrey and several other riders scream.

Audrey breathes a sigh of relief and relaxes as the boat glides gently past plastic replicas of forest creatures and trees. The boat goes around a corner and into a cave scene with trunk after trunk overflowing with rings, necklaces, and jewels of all sorts that sparkle in the spotlight.

A flash to Audrey’s right nearly blinds her. She throws up her left hand to shield her eyes. The boat jolts and drops as they go over a waterfall. Audrey panics and throws her hand sideways to grab the side. The RING with a red stone on her finger slides off, flies across the water, and CLATTERS into the treasure trunk.

Audrey screams at the drop. Water splashes everywhere. Audrey wipes the dirty water from her eyes and looks at her empty finger. More panic as she pats her surroundings for the ring.

She glares at the woman who had used a flash, but the woman ignores Audrey as the woman posts a selfie to her social media.

Gnats and the police

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I was visited by the police yesterday.

Seems the neighbor behind me called them because, in his mind, I am harassing him. (Read the Lavender and ground cover post to see how I’m supposed to be making his life miserable.)

The police and I chatted for a bit while I told my side of the story. Then I asked what the neighbor thought I had done that warranted a phone call to the police.

They told me that his car had been ticketed for being illegally parked. He was furious and sure that ticket was proof that he was the victim of harassment. By me.

As if I had any pull whatsoever with the City of Seattle.

If you could see me you’d see a woman shaking her head in confusion. I’ve heard of people not taking responsibility for their own actions, but…

Never mind. Our back fence is now installed, so with any luck we’ll rarely have to see the gnats that live in the house behind us.

Because that’s what they are, gnats. Whatever their agenda is, I want no part of it.

So I’ll do what I always do with gnats. I’ll ignore the pesky little things. They’re not worth the brain power it would take to think of them.

Of course, they may believe ignoring them is a form of harassment.

Wouldn’t that be funny!

Lavender and ground cover

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We bought this house a little over 2 years ago, and we’ve been working hard to fix up every inch of it.

Our project this summer was the great outdoors. Or at least, our small portion of it. So we took down the old, ugly fences and built new ones. Then we bought tons of plants and planted our little hearts out.

One area we planted is a 10 ft wide strip of land located between our backyard and the street. It’s an odd little strip of land that leads nowhere but to our backyard. It was overgrown and ugly but before we planted anything I went to the permitting office to get the proper permit.

I’m a bit of a rule follower. I look up ordinances and laws and follow proper procedure. But that’s just me.

After waiting for nearly 4 hours I was told that the area was our planting strip, and therefore our responsibility. They said, “No permit needed. YOU MUST maintain that area.”

I wish they had given us a permit anyway, because the neighbor behind us, well, let’s just say he’s not cooperative. As soon as he heard we had plans to make the area pretty he began parking both his car and his trash cans there.

Skip to yesterday. While we were working in our backyard, the neighbor, his wife, and grown daughter popped over to chat.

First out of the daughter’s mouth was the accusation that I had been aggressive with her dad. Later in the conversation I discovered that he thought I had knocked too hard on his door one day, a year ago. I guess my super strength got away from me, because it had felt like a normal knock.

But wait, there’s more. The daughter then accused my family of targeting them because we’re racist. She also claimed we had made her parent’s home too unsafe for her to bring her two small children by for a visit.

Huh? In the 2 years we’ve lived here we’ve talked to the man maybe half a dozen times. I thought it was all pretty friendly. So either my very voice sounds threatening to him or it’s all about the planting strip. But that still doesn’t make sense, because how does planting ground cover and lavender make us racist or add danger?

The conversation lasted much longer than it should’ve, with the man repeatedly saying we needed to compromise. His version of compromising meant we would do exactly what he wanted.

But wait, there’s even more. We were then accused of stealing from them, and by the end of the conversation we had also been called crazy and childish.

To round it all out, they ended the conversation by saying they planned to sue us.

I still don’t know over what.

And all the while the man kept saying, “I want to be a good neighbor.”

Too bad he doesn’t know what that means.

Fixin’ up the house

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Every summer we do something to make our house better. This summer one of our projects is the front fence.

It took a whole month to decide on the style of fence, to design it, and to make all those little decisions that would make the fence our own. Luckily for me, my husband enjoys doing things like that so all I had to do was make a few suggestions here and there.

Then we built it. From scratch. Nothing came prebuilt, not even the flower boxes.

Here’s what the old fence looked like:

Not much to it and the neighbors said it had been there at least 30 years.

Here’s the fence we built.

I like it much better.

When an author gives you a book…

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…Please, please, please let her know you read it. Or you started it and didn’t like it. Or you’re planning to read it in ten years, when you’ve cleared out every other book you have piled up in your living room waiting to be read.

Whatever you do, don’t just say nothing, as if you don’t remember that the book exists.

Authors act tough, but in reality they are fragile creatures. They’ve sweated long hours and bared their souls to create that book.

The worst thing that could happen to it would be for it to fade away into obscurity. Because if the book is invisible, so is the author.

Silence is torture.

Which is why I was so happy when my sister called to talk about my newest book, Time Without, the other day. She chatted about the story, said how she would have ended it, and suggested a few new characters for future stories.

I appreciated every minute. To have her call and chat about the book was the best gift she could have given me.

Too often I give copies of my books to friends and family and I never hear another word about it. It’s as if when I hand them the book it slips sideways into a black hole and is sucked away forever, never to be seen or heard from again.

I don’t know if they read it and hated it, or simply threw it into the trash.  ‘Cause it must be one of the two or they’d have some sort of comment to make.

In the past I tried asking what they thought of the book, but that was so awkward I vowed to never do it again. It felt like I was on a fishing expedition for compliments, and I’ve never really liked compliments.

Sigh.

There are drawbacks to being a writer. I can’t help but imagine all the ways a reader might dislike my books. The book’s too long, too short, not exciting enough, too exciting, blah, blah, blah. You name it, I’ve probably thought it. And to make matters worse, my imagination never sleeps, even when I do.

So when an author gives you a book, read it or don’t. But whatever you do, respond! Throw that poor author a bone!