Friday, June 20, 2014

When Your Character Turns Mute by Ginger Simpson

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There are two kinds of writers...well maybe three if you count the folks who do a little of each, but most are "plotters" and the rest are "pantsers."  I'm pretty sure the term "plotters" tells you thet author actually plots out the story from beginning to end.  What the heck is a "pantser," you ask?  We write by the seat of our pants, meaning our characters speak to us and tell us how the story should progress.  Our job is to turn the telling part into showing and making the story into a novel.  Things are great as long as we "pantsers" have voices in our head.

Unfortunately, sometimes our hero/heroines turn mute.  For no apparent reason, they just stop talking and then we're stalled.  I'm in this predicament with Yellow Moon, a novel I promised Books We Love I'd finish months ago, but my heroine either decided she doesn't like me, or she's as confused as I am.  When silence happens, I either sit and twiddle my fingers, or I do what I've done while on vacation: start a new story with someone who wants to chat.  I've somehow conjured up a gal named Harlee, and she's telling me all about Oklahoma and the drought.  Thank goodness, she's quite the talker.  In fact, I can't get her to shut up and realize I can't type when I'm holding a twenty-pound dog who thinks it's more fun to ride in my lap than have the whole back seat to himself.  Go figure.

I'm still trying to figure out why I write historical novels because even though the character tells me a story, they don't often know all the details, so there is a whole lot of research involved.  Right now, I can't wait until I get back to my Internet so I can determine if a towel was indeed called a towel back then, if water closets were existent, and if so, what type of bathtub one might find in one.  Seems like small details, but I've learned if you aren't accurate with your historical facts, even though you write fiction, someone is bound to notice and tell the world.  The last thing an author wants to lose is their credibility.

So, with that explained, I'd like to share a little of Harlee's growing novel with you.  It's going to be entitled, The Well.  I hope this makes you look forward to reading more.  And remember, this is a first draft, so it's likely to change a little later on down the line.  *smile*

A little set up:  Logan has rescued Harlie and has taken her to his home. This scene introduces her to his mother and the beautiful house in which the Caruthers live.

Inside, a massive entry with a multi-colored, braided rug greeted her.  White pillars separated that space from a setting room with beautiful furniture that looked as though it had never been used.  Elegant emerald silk draperies framed both windows, and a shining wooden floor so unlike the rough planks in her house edged yet another beautiful braided rug–this one in shades of green.  The whole place smelled of cinnamon apples.

A lady wearing a high-collared blue velvet dress swept into the room.  The golden locket around her neck sparkled against the dark background.  Surely this wasn’t how she dressed every day.  Not even one stray hair hung from the graying tresses she wore pulled back into a bun. Although the hairstyle made her appear more matronly, Harlee had never seen such finery.  The older woman’s beauty showed through the few wrinkles on her face and didn’t hide her resemblance to her son.

  “Oh, there you are Logan–”  Her salt and pepper brows rose.  She eyed Harlee’s dishevlment and frowned.  “Who...who’s your friend, dear, and why are you carrying her?”

"Ma,  this is Harlee Wagner.  She's had a bit of bad luck.  I found her at the bottom of the well on the property Pa’s interested in.  She thinks she’s been there for about four days, and seems to have lost her family.  I insisted she come here to get something to eat and clean up.  I’m hoping you have something that might fit her.”  He looked at Harlee and smiled.  “Oh, and I’m carrying her because after her fall, she’s weaker than a newborn colt.”

“But, she’s getting muck all over your shirt.”  His mother wriggled her nose.

“It’ll wash, don’t fret so”  He sniffed the air.  “What smells so good?”

“Cook has just finished a grand cobbler.  You’re just in time, and... Harlee was it?  You definitely are a rumpled mess, but I’m still pleased to meet you.  If Logan has promised you help, you’ll definitely get it.  You’re welcome in our home.”  Mrs.  Caruthers words held more sarcasm than warmth.

Thank you, ma’am." Harlee's voice turned hoarse again. "I assure you I don’t usually look or sound like this, but after sitting in water for a few days, this is what you get.  I’m sorry about Logan’s shirt.”

Mrs. Caruthers ran an assessing gaze over Harlee.  “Like he said, his shirt will wash, and so will you.  I think I can probably find something for you to wear.”

“I’d appreciate that very much.  Whatever you find doesn’t  have to be anything fancy.”

“No worries, I might have an old dress or two for you, but first lets get you cleaned up.”  She wrinkled her nose again as if she smelled something bad.  “Oh, and you must be starving after being in a well for so long.  Once you bathe and change, Cook can fill up that empty stomach of yours while you tell me all about your fall.”

Logan started up the stairs with Harlee still in his arms, but paused on the first one and looked back at his mother.  “ I’m going to fetch the doc.  Harlee took quite a tumble, and I want to make sure she’s not hurt more than she lets on.”

“Of course, son.  I agree, we need to have the doctor check out our guest.And don’t you worry about anything, Harlee.  Logan will take you to the guest room, and I’ll have the maid come and help you get freshened up. Meanwhile I’ll find those dresses I mentioned.”

Don’t worry?  Logan’s mother had only heard bits and pieces of Harlee’s dilemma.  No matter who told her not to fret, her insides knotted with fear and her head filled with unanswered questions. As soon as the doctor gave his approval, she was ready to find out what had happened to her family.  Besides, Mrs.  Caruther’s had all the charm of a coiled rattler ready to strike and made Harlee feel like next in line to get bit.

***

While you wait for me to finish this book, please feel free to check out all my other offerings on my Amazon page.  In fact, Time-Tantrums and Shortcomings are on sale now for ninety-nine cents until the23rd.  How can you pass that up?
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How I wish I’d become a scientist—Tricia McGill.

Find info on all my books here on my Books We Love Author page Back in the days when I was ready to leave primary school in London an...