Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yet another writing prompt

Ann's writing prompt:
Here are some stereotypical character traits of the handsome romantic hero that have already been established for this character:
–single male
–dark wavy hair
–broad shoulders
–far-away stare
–BA in Geology
–works as a construction contractor
–built his own unique home in the hills north of Portland, Oregon
–favors well broken-in jeans, tee shirts, beat-up running shoes
–his name is Hank

Your challenge is to put Hank into a scene where it becomes obvious that he is not a stereotype at all, but someone full of surprises.

Hank rolled his broad shoulders and leaned forward against the kitchen island, stretching out the hamstring on each leg. He loved running along the trails in Forest Park. Today’s rainstorm hadn’t bothered him. The grey overcast rainy days of Portland were his favorite– they suited his mood. Today he’d made time for a quick run before dinner, and since it was cooler than usual, he’d had the trails all to himself. The heavy mat of fir needles covering the path gave a spring to his step and the air smelled clean and freshly scrubbed of all the big-city odors.

He kicked off his beat-up running shoes and picked up the set of rolled drawings, spreading them out on the counter-top, and gazed at the design. The house was coming along on schedule, although slightly over budget. The owners had picked a challenging lot in the West Hills to build their new home. As a General Contractor specializing in that area, he was in high demand, not only because of the unique contemporary-designed homes he built, but because of his degree in Geology.

Hank was an expert in dealing with any potential problems that the fault line running the length of the West Hills presented. He’d engineered the complicated building site, calling for the foundation to be reinforced with re-bar, and for concrete pilings to be driven deep into the ground. He situated the home perfectly to maximize its stability and to take advantage of the views of the Willamette River. Although he was one of the younger General Contractors in the city at thirty two, he had a stellar reputation and clients had faith in him. It didn’t hurt that he had built and lived in a unique chrome and glass house in the hills along the fault line also.

He ran a hand through his dark wavy hair and glanced at his watch.  He had two hours to get ready. Tonight his usual well-worn jeans and tee shirt attire would give way to something more suited for his destination.

He reached for his cell phone when the “Y-M-C-A” ringtone played. He got kidded about that a lot, but he liked the Village People.

 “Hey, there’s a bunch of us meeting for a drink downtown around six-ish at Kell’s Irish Pub,” said Stephanie, his assistant. “You wanna join us?”

“No, I’ve got other plans,” he said, “But thanks for asking.”

“You sure? Jeannine will be there.”

“Yep, I’m sure. I’ll see you Monday.” Stephanie was always trying to set him up with a date. He did his best to discourage her, but she still tried. He stared off into the distance. It would take someone pretty understanding to put up with him, his hectic work schedule, not to mention his hobbies.

He came back to the present and headed for the shower. He practiced a few dance moves as he sauntered down the hallway.

Two hours later, Hank parked in the lot behind the well-known downtown building and carefully exited the car. He straightened his clothes before opening the door to a room full of noise, music and lights.

“Henrietta,” called another patron. “Over here.”

He carefully smoothed his red sequined gown, pushed a curl from the long brunette wig behind his ear, careful to not disturb the dangling earring clipped there, and sashayed over to the table. “Hi, Darcelle,” he said to Portland’s oldest drag queen. “Looks like business is booming tonight.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Writing Prompt

Ann Linquist was my first and most favorite writing instructor. I follow her blog and participate in her writing prompts when I can. Here is her latest writing challenge:

Someone is soon to arrive.The room is ten by twelve. The walls are freshly painted in a flat ivory latex. The floor looks like wooden planks but is actually a laminate that does not stain, chip, or peel. There is one window that has white plastic miniblinds.  One light is embedded in the ceiling. A single bed is made up with white sheets, one pillow, and two flannel blankets, one olive green and the other navy blue. Someone has drawn a picture of a face on the ivory wall. Who's coming? 

The smiling woman squeezed her hand as she led her into the small room. “And here’s where you’ll sleep.”

Lorena was momentarily blinded by the brilliant whiteness of the space as the early evening sunlight bounced off the walls. She sucked in a deep breath and coughed.

“Oh, I’m sorry; we just finished painting it this morning when we heard you were coming. The smell will go away soon.” The lady hurried across the room, raised the mini-blinds, and slid open the window as wide as it would go. “We’ll just air it out while we have dinner.”

Lorena stood staring at the starkness of the space. A single bed with a  navy blue blanket hugged the wall. The floor reminded her of the doctor’s office she’d just come from.

“Tomorrow we’ll get a dresser, a rug, and a pretty bedspread with matching curtains. And some new clothes, too,” the lady said looking at the shopping bag clutched in the girls arms. “You can leave your bag on the bed while we have dinner; it will be fine.”

 Lorena hugged the torn shopping bag to her chest-it contained all her possessions.Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a small drawing on the wall by the head of the bed and she stepped closer to inspect it. Dora the Explorer. She’d had a Dora the Explorer backpack once, but it had been stolen. Or maybe her mom had sold it to buy more drugs. She didn’t know.

“Oh, my daughter Mandy must have stuck that on the wall for you. It’s a peel-off sticker, so you can take it down if you don’t like it. It’s Mandy’s favorite cartoon character. She’s anxious to meet you.”

Lorena heard a soft meow and turned towards the door. A blonde girl her age stood smiling shyly at her, holding a white kitten in her arms. “You want to pet Snowball? She’s my new kitty?”

“Lorena, this is Mandy. She has the bedroom right next to you.”

“Do you like Dora?” Mandy asked.

Lorena nodded. “Si.”

“You want to come see my Dora stuff?” Mandy asked.

Maybe living in a Foster Home would be better than living with her mom and the different men who came to their place each night–the men she hid in the closet to escape from.

Lorena smiled, set her bag on the bed, and followed Mandy out of the room.

If you want to read the vastly different responses to this writing prompt click on: 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Excerpt from new novel, "Counterfeit Chemistry"

Jessie hesitated mid-stride when she saw her mom. Her once long blonde hair, now spiky-short was covered with a pink baseball cap turned jauntily to the side, its long bill covered in sequins. Jessie recovered and rushed to envelop her in a hug. She felt the small thin frame of her once healthy mom and refused to give in to the tears that gathered in her eyes. 

“Mom, why didn’t you let me know earlier? You’ve lost so much weight.”

“Damn cancer. Didn’t want to bother you. I’ve been coping,” she said, hugging her back. “It’s just this chemo. It knocks me out. And the drug I’ve been getting to give me more stamina doesn’t seem to be doing anything.”

 “Can you go home now? It’s after six.”

“Yes, I just need to talk with Marc for a minute, then I’ll head out. James will be home tonight and we’re planning a quiet evening.”

Jessie bit her tongue; she didn’t want to talk about James. “Who’s Marc?” 

“I’m surprised Sarah didn’t mention him. Come on into the kitchen. We’ve added another chef so Sarah can have some days off. She’s been working too much already, and since we’re doing so well, I want to expand the restaurant hours.”

She was not prepared to see the most handsome man she’d ever set eyes on. 

“Marc, meet my daughter Jessie. Jessie, this is our newest addition Marc DeLuca.”

Jessie was captivated by the liquid brown eyes that looked deeply into hers. Curly brown hair escaped from under his black beret, and his deep brown complexion contrasted with the white chef’s jacket. 

He smiled as he stepped forward and took her hand. “Pleased to meet you, Jessie. I’ve heard a lot about you from your mom and from Sarah.” 

His touch and perfect smile sent shivers of joy up her spine. She looked up to the tip of his six foot frame and swallowed. His build was powerful and magnificent. If ever there was a time not to lose her voice, it would be now. 

“Pleased to meet you, too,” she said a breathlessly. She hoped she didn’t sound like an idiot. 

“Marc, I’ll need you to close up tonight. Can you write up the order for Wednesday morning delivery?”

“Sure, not a problem, Beverly. You go home and rest and I’ll see you Wednesday.” He turned to lock eyes with Jessie. “I understand we’ll be seeing you around here now.”

She cleared her throat and touched the tip of her tongue to wet her dry her upper lip. “Yes, I’ll be helping mom so she can concentrate on getting stronger.” 

“I’ll certainly be looking forward to getting to know you better.”

“Yeah, me too.” Man, how stupid was that? “I mean, I’ll be looking forward to getting to know you, too.” He made it so she couldn’t think straight. How was she going to function working around him every day?