You Are Mine

A tear fell from her eye and slid ever so slowly across the curve of her cheek, pooling in the downturned corner of her mouth. He pulled her into his embrace and kissed the tear away.

“Are you so very disappointed in me?” she asked, gazing up into his eyes, trying to discern his thoughts there.

“Do I seem disappointed?”

She thought about everything that had just happened, turning it over in her mind. She had been so absorbed in her own experience of events, so focused on her own feelings, that she hadn’t really paid attention to how he seemed during it all, what he might be getting from it. She was mostly aware of what he was doing, of how it impacted her — and how those impacts felt — and not so much of how he might be feeling. Now she recalled the intense concentration on his face, the firm yet gentle touch of his other hand, and she realized he had been fully present in the moment, completely focused upon her, while she had selfishly spared thoughts only for herself. A fresh sense of unworthiness and selfishness washed over her, and once again she could not understand his interest in her, despite the evidence of his caring embrace, his soothing touch, his loving kiss. She sniffled softly before replying.

“No. No, you don’t, but I don’t understand why you put up with me. I’m so selfish! You are so good to me, and I don’t do anything for you, and, and… and no wonder I needed this, deserved this, what you just did, when you… I didn’t pay any attention to you! I should have been thinking about you, but all I could think about was what was happening to me, and when your hand… when it would…”

“Hush.” He put a finger to her lips, quieting her, cradling her on his lap. He kissed her brow and slowly her breathing calmed. “You were perfect. You gave me everything I could possibly desire. You lost yourself in the experience, gave yourself over to me completely, and that, my darling, is more beautiful to me than you could imagine.”

Again she found herself lost in his eyes, looking for what he wasn’t saying but finding only honesty there. With a start she realized that she trusted him completely, knew with every fiber of her being that he would always take care of her. She wanted to wrap her arms about him and hold on tight, never let go, but of course that wasn’t possible yet. She lay her head against his chest, curling herself in his lap, and he held her more tightly. She could feel his heart beating strongly beneath her cheek, and she marveled at the power he wielded over her. With a single word he could calm her fears. With a single touch he could inflame her passions. With a single glance he could hold her soul.

She wriggled against him, settling in comfortably, and she felt his heart race within his ribcage. Experimentally, she wiggled again, and again his pulse rate shot up. She smiled to herself, marveling at the power she apparently held over him, too, her doubts evaporating like summer rain steaming under the hot southern sun.

“Careful, pet, or you’re liable to get me started all over again,” he said with a soft chuckle, and that thought only made her want to wriggle more. She turned her face up toward his, and he leaned down to kiss her lips, long, languorous, and slow. Now she really wished she could wrap her fingers in his hair, twining them in its silky black length, caressing the touch of grey just beginning to show at his temples, but she contented herself with inhaling his breath, tasting his mouth, parting her lips to tease the tip of his tongue with her own.

She felt just a twinge of discomfort from her sore bottom, but that reminder only served to ignite further flames within her. The twinge and her reaction didn’t escape his notice, and he responded by taking her mouth even more fiercely, crushing her lips with his kiss, taking her lower lip between his teeth and biting to just the edge of pain. Briefly she wondered if afterwards her lips would also be bruised, sore, and red, but then she ceased all thought as he renewed his advance, crushing her thin body against his with the ferocity of his embrace.

After an eternity that flashed by in an instant, he withdrew and they both caught their breaths, panting from aroused passions. He kept her gaze locked on his eyes, lifting a hand to push back a strand of hair falling across her face.

“Do you still wonder if I’m disappointed with you, my pet?”

She smiled, all fears laid to rest. “No. No, I don’t.”

“And are you disappointed with me?”

“No, I am not.”

“Good, because I plan to keep you for a very long time.”

She squirmed again in his lap, happiness settling over her, suffusing her through and through.

“Ok, I don’t think we need these any longer,” he said, reaching around behind her. “But first, pet, what are you?”

She knew this game. She liked this game, and now she knew it wasn’t actually a game.

“I am yours.”

“That’s right,” he said, as he unlocked the cuffs from her wrists.

“You are mine.”

Since You Went Away

Since you went away,
Nothing feels the same;
The house is always dark,
The sky is always gray,
Since you went away.

I miss your easy laugh,
The twinkle in your eye,
The sureness of your step,
The creases of your smile,
Since you went away.

It would only be a while,
You said to calm my fears,
Back before I knew,
And kissed to stop my tears,
Before you went away.

You took the only key
For the lock around my heart,
To hold it close and tight,
As long as we’re apart,
When you went away.

You wrote me every day,
Let me know you’re fine,
Plans for your return,
Told me you were mine,
While you were away.

Then one day you stopped,
Wrote me nothing more;
The somber men in dark
Dress Blues at my door;
My love, you went away.

You still hold the key,
It’s buried with my heart;
A promise made to me,
You swore we’d never part,
Then you went away.

Battle Over the Two Spaces

By now you’ve all seen one or another of these posts, which seem to be going viral even though they are actually a few years old. The question raised seems to engender strong reactions and strong opinions, and, being a writerly and grammarly crowd, I’d expect it to be no different with any of you.

Should you use two spaces after a period ending a sentence, or not?

From what I can glean, the question first came up (on the web) in 2009 and was addressed by Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, in her podcast How Many Spaces After a Period? By the way, if you aren’t already familiar with the Grammar Girl series, you should be, as the posts are delightful, informative, and well-presented.

Two years later Farhad Manjoo jumped into the fray with an article in Slate entitled Space Invaders: Why You Should Never, Ever Use Two Spaces After a Period. This is the piece that apparently went viral, having to date been shared on Facebook 673,000 times, another nearly 11,000 times on Twitter, and receiving almost 600 comments on the original publication. It is still receiving comments and being shared today, although the article is approaching four years in age.

Both Fogarty and Manjoo assert that a single space after ending a sentence is correct, and the habit of using two spaces is a short-lived quirk of history that came in with the typewriter and its monospaced fonts. Now that we all use computers, they assert, we should relegate this archaic practice to the dustbin of history, alongside the Olivettis and IBM Selectrics that ushered it in.

I read these articles with a distinct sense of unease, as their assertions about how this all came about and what is actually correct did not gibe at all with how I was taught or my recollection of the whys and wherefores of both practices. Could it be that I’ve been wrong all these years?

Then I was introduced to this long and well-researched piece by “Heraclitus”: Why Two Spaces After a Period Isn’t Wrong (or, The Lies Typographers Tell About History).

Suddenly, all was right with the world again. The horizon was once more level. My memory was not suspect, and I was not slowly (or rapidly) losing my mind.

Well, I might still be losing my mind, so perhaps that is a different question for a different day.

You see, without wishing to date myself too much, I learned to type in high school on a typewriter. In those days the class was actually called Typing (nowadays I believe it’s referred to as Keyboarding). At least it was an electric typewriter; I’m not that ancient! I was indeed, like perhaps many of you, very specifically taught to use two spaces after a period, exclamation point, or question mark at the end of a sentence. Furthermore, I was also taught to use two spaces after a colon, and then to capitalize the first letter of the first word after the colon. Nobody said anything about monospaced fonts. Unless you were a typographer, there really was only one font: Courier. Proportional fonts, like right-margin justification, was something typesetters worried about.

So, I guess I did just date myself. Sigh.

My understanding of the history of the two spaces was that before the age of electric typewriters, periods were chancy things. They might print nice and neat and bold, they might come out small and faint and nearly impossible to see, or they might actually punch right through the page and into the platen, or roller, behind the paper. Thus we were told not to strike the period key too hard on a manual typewriter, which meant they would tend to faintness.

(Electric typewriters were expensive, and heavy, beasts. We may have used them in class, and later in the office, but the device I first owned for myself was decidedly unpowered.)

The point (see what I did there?) was that you couldn’t be too sure that the period would be easily visible and obvious to someone reading quickly, so by adding extra space after the period you provided a definitive visual cue that the sentence had indeed ended and another one, wholly separate, was about to begin. You were aiding the cause of speed reading.

At some point someone would inevitably point out that in newspapers only a single space appeared after a period and before the next sentence. Why would these bastions of language — and typography — commit this cardinal sin?

Because space in newsprint is expensive, my dear, the teacher would reply, and therefore a convention has arisen that it is acceptable in journalism to eliminate the second space. So, now we have one rule for journalism, and another rule for all other writing.

In the early days of my career when I worked as an executive secretary (using a word processor, thank you very much, but I still had to take a typing test on a Selectric to get the job), no one, not once, ever said I was doing it wrong by using two spaces. Business grammar and journalism grammar apparently really were two different things.

Well, that part about the cheapness of news editors may or may not have been true (probably not), but nevertheless Heraclitus had restored order to the world by setting the record straight. Two spaces is correct, and furthermore it has been correct for long ages of history. We could all breathe easy.

Or not. You see, I had noticed some time ago that when I typed my posts in WordPress, sometimes the left margin would not justify properly. I was mystified as to why this was happening, and it gave my posts a decidedly unprofessional look, all sort of raggedy and uneven.

Then it dawned on me. Every time a line was out of alignment with the left margin, it was a new sentence beginning at that margin. Something was up with the way WordPress was inserting line breaks between sentences, and of course what was up was that WordPress was assuming there would be only one space after the period. Therefore, the second space was apparently assumed to be part of the new sentence, and thus the line should begin with that space.

Not at all what I intended.

Some of you old-time bloggers may have a trick up your sleeve to trick WordPress into treating the two spaces correctly (Heraclitus manages to do it on his non-WordPress blog), but otherwise it seems that WordPress indeed forces us to use a single space.

It’s not just WordPress, either. HTML, the “language” upon which much of the World Wide Web depends, eliminates extra spaces between words by design. There are ways to trick HTML code to retain spaces, but the upshot is that a space has a specific purpose in HTML, and having more than one in a row is… wasted space.

It would seem that we double-spacers are losing this battle, or at least we must go to much more extreme efforts if we wish to hold onto our ways. Is it worth it? Indeed, you will of course notice that I am not double-spacing in this post, nor (intentionally) in any of my posts on this blog. I like my left margins to line up, after all. I am even starting to train myself in the habit of using a single space elsewhere, but I admit it is hard. Long decades of habit are working against me on this one. I must very deliberately think about not double-tapping the space bar.

So, what do you do? What are your thoughts on this essential, and burning, question? Do you think a single space is better, or two spaces? Or do you not care?

 

Benefits of a Bad Knee

I’m a hiker. I pretty much always have been, beginning as a small child being taken on hiking and camping trips by my mother (at 81 she has just begun to slow down in the past couple years). For a while, about ten years ago, I even got into climbing, but had to let that drop as the time commitment was more than I had capacity for. I still harbor dreams of ascending some of the larger local peaks from time to time, and to that end I decided that this summer I would climb Mt Adams.

I say climb, but I suppose what I really mean is scramble, as the South Spur route that I intended to take is “non-technical,” which is a polite way of saying that if you fall, there is no rope with which your companions might save you, and you may therefore tumble two-thousand feet down an ice chute all by yourself, rather than dragging the others with you. You still need crampons and ice axe, so it’s a little more than going off-trail. But I digress.

Regardless of the technicality of it all, it had been a few years since I had ascended something like that, and I wasn’t quite in the shape I thought I should be for the attempt. So, over last winter and spring I set out to train, getting much more intense at the gym, going running, outdoor stair climbing (my personal favorite is Golden Gardens — see this delightful description (with photos!) of the experience), and, as the winter turned to spring, replacing the stairs with conditioning hikes in the lower-elevation Cascade foothills.

On a side note, I’m not much of a runner, because running tends to make my knee hurt, which probably just means I’m doing it wrong and have bad shoes. So, this time I purchased new shoes and deliberately set out on a very gradual and easy program. Fat lot of good it did me, as you’ll see.

The training paid off. I received compliments on my shrinking waistline, the scale also had nice things to say, and the improvements in time going up and down those stairs was measurable, not to mention I got to the point where I could actually talk while going up those stairs, and not just huff and puff and sweat and wonder Dear God, will it ever end? Make it stop!

Then came the Cable Line. You know how trails will make switchbacks to get up steep hills, and sometimes you can see where people have cut the corners of the switchback, saving themselves perhaps a few extra steps but enduring a brief moment of steep ruggedness? (Don’t ever do that, by the way. Very bad form). Well, the Cable Line is the ultimate cutting of a switchback, in that while it starts and ends at nearly the same place as a real trail, it bypasses all the switchbacks of that trail and goes straight up, gaining 2,000′ in just 1.5 miles. This is pretty much the definition of a vertical slope, at least as far as hikers are concerned.

So, I made it to the top of the Cable Line ok. I wasn’t especially impressed with my performance, but I didn’t die on the way up. At the top one is rewarded with really quite a nice view of the Puget Sound communities laid out below, and once I had learned how to breathe normally again I was able to appreciate this.

Then it was time to go back down. That’s when my troubles began.

Downhill is where creaky knees make themselves known. I didn’t even attempt to go back down the way I had come up. I consciously tried to save my knees by taking the longer, but less steep, winding West Tiger 3 trail. That would be the one whose switchbacks the Cable Line so directly cuts. However, I was thinking about dinner and moving pretty fast and after all this wasn’t the rough and steep Cable Line but rather a normal trail, and… my knee popped.

Hobbling down the rest of the way, practically hopping on one leg, I knew this was not a good sign. Once I made it back to civilization (there was some doubt), I gave myself a week off from all things stressful to knees, then tried a city park walk, and… no go.

Climbing was out for this summer.

However, maybe not all was lost, and I’d still be able to get in some really good hikes, just not the steep, snowy, “semi-technical” high-angle bits with heavy packs. I had already made plans for some weekend getaways in late summer (after the climb was to be finished) to cabins and lodges in beautiful, mountainous parts of the state, with the intent of spending two or three days hiking classic trails in each spot. With an eye to salvaging what I could of the summer I set out to restore my knee, going to physical therapy, and so on, and it is getting better.

Just not very quickly. Walks of more than a few blocks have a tendency to bring back that “pop,” especially if there’s any downhill to it, so those classic trails have been beyond me this summer. My fitness level has returned to a pre-training state, and I’m afraid the scale is no longer as friendly as it was a few months ago.

I elected to still go on the getaways, however, even though I could not hike. “Perfect writing time!” I thought to myself. “I’ll get so much done!” And it’s true, I have managed to get in some decent writing time while hanging around the coffee shop in Glacier, and in the beautiful lodge at Paradise and picnic area at Sunrise, and, this weekend, the inn and country store at Mazama.

Alas, my summer weekend getaways are now done, but I’m certain I’ll manage to continue to find inspiration around me. My stories tend to take place mostly in the city, after all.

And next summer there will be more hiking.Writing in Methow 2-1

Getaway Weekends

I’m off to another getaway weekend in the mountains, laptop and a good book in tow. There might be wifi where I’m staying, but there just as likely might not be, and I’m all right with that. Fewer distractions (though you are all wonderful distractions) means more actual writing gets done. See you in a few days!

Second Chances

That evening, Paul arrived, flowers in hand, scrubbed and clean. Clearly he was going the extra mile. I told you he was a nice guy.

I met him at the door to my apartment, and as we stood there in the doorway awkwardly, I had a serious moment of doubt. What was he going to think of me? Oh well, he was here now, so I had better at least let him in. Maybe I could just pour some wine and drop the whole idea, just spend a relaxing evening, watching a movie or something.

No, that wasn’t going to work. The basic problem still existed, still needed to be solved, and besides, I had dumped this guy once already. Either we tried something different or the whole exercise was pointless. Going on as we did before was not an option for me.

Well, the wine was still a good idea. I was pretty nervous.

“Hi.”

He smiled broadly. “Hi. I, um, brought you these.” He handed me the flowers. I smiled and opened the door wider, ushering him into the living room of my tiny Queen Anne apartment. I nodded over at the bottle on the dining table.

“Pour us each a glass while I get these into some water.”

I pulled a vase out of a kitchen cabinet, filled it with water, cut the ends of the stems, and put the flowers into the vase. When I turned around, Paul had gotten the cork out of the pinot noir and was just pouring the second glass.

“We should let these breathe a little first,” he said.

I picked up one of the glasses and took a healthy swig. Paul just looked at me.

“What? The rest of it will breathe. I needed that now.”

“Are you ok, Olivia?”

“Why?”

“I don’t know, you just seem a little edgy.”

I took a second drink from my glass and looked him in the eye. How the hell was I supposed to do this? Well, only one way to find out if it was going to work.

“Come with me,” I said, then pointed at the bottle. “And bring that.”

Paul picked up the bottle and followed me into the bedroom. Now he was drinking from his glass, too.

“Um, Olivia? Are we even going to talk about, you know, the other night?”

I couldn’t quite meet his eye, so I just started unbuttoning my blouse. His eyes went wide and he opened his mouth but no further words came out. Having sort of thought this through earlier, although whatever plan I’d had was already shot to hell, I wasn’t wearing a bra. When I got the last button undone, I hesitated a moment, though why was beyond me. I mean, it wasn’t like we hadn’t already done it. He had definitely seen me naked before. Why was I so nervous now?

Before I could back out of it, I pulled the blouse open wide and slipped it off my shoulders. Paul’s gaze was firmly on my breasts now, the wine bottle in one hand and glass in the other all but forgotten. I blushed again, the heat spreading across the tops of my breasts, up my neck and onto my face, but I don’t think he even noticed. Moving quickly, nothing especially seductive about it, I shimmied out of my skirt and tugged my panties down. I stepped out of my heels, which frankly I had only put on for greeting him — I don’t usually bother wearing shoes inside the apartment — and stood there before him, naked as the day I was born, blushing even brighter red.

He didn’t say anything. His mouth was still open, and I wasn’t sure if he was shocked or excited. He was definitely surprised. I reached for my glass again and finished it off, then took the bottle from him, refilled my glass, and set the bottle on the nightstand.

“Well?” I said. “Are you just going to stand there?”

The Outdoor Writer’s Studio

Writing at Sunrise 1Lately I’ve been spending my weekends out of town, enjoying some of the more beautiful locations to be found around the Pacific Northwest, and perhaps obtaining some inspiration. Who says you can’t write in an unwired spot?

“Do you get WiFi here?” I was asked fairly constantly.

“Not at all,” I replied with a happy grin.

Romantic Conflict

I think it may have been Tolkien who wrote “Adventure is something nasty happening to someone else far away,” though admittedly I am having trouble sourcing this quote today.

As an aside, I did find a similar quote attributed to David Niven: “Adventure. Ah yes. That’s someone else having a very rough go of it very far away. My idea of adventure is carrying a pint of bitters from one smoke-filled room to the next.” (http://www.baenebooks.com/chapters/0743498747/0743498747___6.htm)

Of course, what either of these quotes implies is that while we enjoy reading about adventure (or watching it on film), it may not be something we necessarily want to have happen to us. For all the interest in adventure tourism, or active sports and pastimes, true adventure implies an element of peril not sought for its own sake, but rather risked or endured, perhaps unwillingly, on the way to something else far more desirable.

In other words, adventure is conflict. Most of us seek to reduce conflict in our own lives, but in fiction, without conflict there isn’t much of a story. A group of characters sitting around having the time of their lives may sound like a lot of fun, but it isn’t very interesting to read about.

That means our protagonist is that someone else, and for the story to be interesting, she must have a very rough go of it. Nasty things must befall her, and then she must overcome them, gain strength through adversity, and return to her ordinary world wiser than before, having won the grand prize.

Herein lies the author’s conflict. We spend so much time with our protagonists, our main or lead characters, our heroes and heroines, that it is easy to identify with them. They are the children of our imagination. We grow to love them as we love ourselves, or as we love our best friends, and who would wish nastiness upon their best friend?

Yet we must, for the sake of the other children of our imagination, the stories themselves. We must array armies of conflict against our heroine, in all their serried ranks, and she must lose at least a few battles — though she can win one now and then, too — before ultimately emerging victorious. It’s painful to do, but our heroine must suffer — for the sake of art, of course.

So what does conflict look like in a romance, then? No one is swinging swords at our heroine (unless, perhaps, we are writing a paranormal fantasy romance), nor shooting bullets at her (or are we writing romantic suspense?). The grand prize she seeks, though she may not know it at first, is love. The barriers she must overcome on her quest for this prize are emotional more than physical.

There will be external conflict. She is not the only one seeking the hero’s heart.  She has a rival, one who may stop at nothing to steal the hero away from her. Perhaps her family, or the hero’s family, or workplace rules or societal politics, dictate that they should not be together. Perhaps the hero is, at first, simply uninterested, or he lives in a different world, moves in different circles, such that their paths would not cross in the normal state of affairs.

There will also be internal conflict. The heroine, or hero, or both, may have been hurt before, such that they now avoid entanglements, or they may inwardly consider themselves somehow unworthy of love, or of each other, not realizing at first how far from the truth this sentiment may be. The heroine will harbor some dark secret, some shadow from her past that she has struggled — and failed — to overcome, and just when things finally seem to be on a perfect trajectory, it will rear its ugly head to dash all hopes.

Naturally, she will ultimately triumph, defeating her inner demons and outer rivals, and win the hero’s heart for all eternity, as classic romantic tropes dictate, living happily ever after.

Or will she?

Romance is full of conflict, and in this we find a truth for both fiction and reality.

And So It Begins

Thus is our heroine launched into her journey of self-discovery, unsure of what she is looking for, only knowing that she hasn’t been finding it. Yesterday’s post shows the opening lines of the first draft, a novel with a working title of Switch. That title is certain to change at this point, so we may just as well call it Olivia’s Story. Olivia burst onto the scene, nearly fully formed like Athena springing from the head of Zeus, at the start of NaNoWriMo last year.

You do know what NaNoWriMo is, don’t you? Ok, I suspect most of those interested in reading a blog like this have some idea, perhaps even have tried their hand at it, but for those who have not yet suffered the agony… er, I mean enjoyed the pleasure, NaNoWriMo is an annual month-long writing marathon which attracts participants from all over the world. The name is short-hand for National Novel Writing Month, and the idea is to write 50,000 words — or more — of original fiction in 30 days. It’s a contest of sorts, occurring every November, except you aren’t competing against anyone else, as everyone who achieves the goal is a winner. The intent is to encourage not just creativity but also persistence. It is hard work to churn out 50,000 words in a month while also balancing the needs of a day job, a family, and perhaps some pretense at a social life. It’s much harder to do this and turn out anything that isn’t utter muck, but that’s not quite the point of the exercise.

The point of the exercise is to develop the habit of writing every day, no matter what else happens. NaNoWriMo encourages traits such as sticktoitiveness and getitdoneiveness (can I trademark that one?) more than actually writing well. After all, writing well is the point of second drafts, isn’t it?

Ah, except my inner editor always gets in the way and wants to compose, edit, and refine as we go. This tends to make better first drafts, such that come revision time wholesale chopping of the text is less necessary, but it also tends to make it easier to get bogged down, miss deadlines (deadlines? What deadlines? It’s not as if I have a publisher or editor breathing down my neck, after all. That would be a nice problem to have), or even lose steam in the project.

So this is where NaNoWriMo (gosh, I get tired of that odd capitalization) comes in for me. I find that balance between revising as I go and getting it done — hopefully — and thus actually complete projects.

The first time I tried my hand at Nano (let’s just agree to the short form, shall we?), I did not win. At the end of thirty days I had a beautifully crafted beginning and beginning of a middle of a story, lyrical prose that leapt off the page to paint sunsets at sea in the mind’s eye, complete with the cries of seagulls and the briny aroma of the surf crashing against rocks. I had two amazing lead characters, a precocious twelve-year-old immigrant who refused to be bound by the customs of her day and the gruff and grizzled bo’sun of the 19th-century clipper ship she sailed on, whose heart she charmed with her innocent curiosity about all things nautical. There were storms and drunken captains and getting lost at sea. It was beautiful.

What it wasn’t was 50,000 words. At the end of the month I had about 25,000, but if I may say so, they were 25,000 beautifully crafted no-revision-required words. Over the next few months I added about 10,000 words more, then the story just… petered out. I realized I didn’t know how to navigate a path to an ending. The ship may have just sailed on forever.

So the next year I tried again. I had a concept for a character, though not much in the way of a plot, but this character was ready to burst onto the page, any page, and thus Olivia was born. At the start of November Olivia was a fare-paying passenger on… an airship. Yes, I was going to write a steampunk romance! Dastardly air pirates and dashing heroes, and in the midst of it all one plucky heroine who finally finds her way in the struggle against adversity. It was a great concept. Some day I may even take it up again, although not with Olivia.

You see, about five days into the month Olivia let me know that this really wasn’t her story. She didn’t really want to be kidnapped by pirates and rescued by swashbuckling heroes. She preferred a different role. She’s really quite bossy at times, and that’s because Olivia likes to get her way, even if she doesn’t always quite yet know what her way is.

So we started a new story, Olivia and I, and twenty-five days later (because we were already five days into the month, after all) we had 50,101 words.

Alas, however, not all the prose was as lyrical as that of Maria’s story (on the clipper). Don’t get me wrong, my inner editor didn’t completely go on vacation, and I believe I wrote some fine passages. However, as this time the story was completely pantsed (as in, not plotted), not all the scenes necessarily hung together very well. Olivia’s story had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and even a fairly logical plot progression to get from one to the other, but there were definite holes. A few among the supporting cast turned out brilliantly, while a few others needed a little work.

I put the story down for several months and worked on a different project for Olivia, having told myself that the earlier draft was just a practice run. I thought I would use one or two scenes from it in the new storyline, but otherwise it was a completely different plot. This time there would be no pantsing, every detail would be carefully planned in advance, making a story so well-crafted and tight that all would be forced to admit its brilliance. Except, however, it was so tight that Olivia began to complain she couldn’t breathe. She rather likes breathing, as it turns out. Then some of her friends from the earlier story (you haven’t met them yet, but their names are Ashley and Melody, and I think they’ll grow on you just as they did on me) knocked on the door and wanted to know what their part in all of this would be.

Ashley in particular was a little sad that she wouldn’t get to do the original story with Olivia, which kicked in Olivia’s protective instincts. She gave me that look, and with a sigh I agreed, oh, all right, we’ll finish the original story.

So Olivia invites you to come along and meet her good friends Ashley and Melody, and her new friends Nicholas, Walter, and of course Catherine. It wouldn’t do to forget Catherine. As you will discover, Catherine is not to be denied. Paul will have another appearance or two as well. Poor Paul. Things just don’t seem to be going his way at the moment.

But that could change. All you need do is just…

…turn the page.