Brenda Nelson-Davis

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  • Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Thanks Beth,

    You’ve given my lots of great ideas and strategies, which I’m sure will help me complete the Nano 50K challenge with a working story!

    I’ve saved all your lectures to review as November begins.

    in reply to: NANO PREP Lect #7 Thursday, Oct 22 #44418
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    I really like this method. I’ve done Nano for many years, but I’ve never tried this! Thanks.

    in reply to: Patience Requested #44181
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Hey, this happens to all of us. 🙂 No worries.

     

    Brenda

    in reply to: Winner! #44077
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Kudos to Dory, and thank you Allie for a wonderful workshop. I was a lurker, but I appreciate your insights on dialogue and enjoyed reading participants’ posts  Thanks.

    Brenda

    in reply to: NANO ACT Lecture #2 Monday, October 5th #44072
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Hi Beth,

    I like to keep copies of lectures/ lessons. Could you attach PDFs of your lessons? Thanks.

    Brenda

    in reply to: Student: Kendra Frost Homework Thread #42991
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Having coffee with your characters is a great suggestion. Thanks.

    in reply to: Student: Rebecca Rector Homework Thread #42990
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Hey Rebecca,

    I’m late to the game, but I’m working on the homework for lesson 6. I thought this opening was incredible, something I’d read in a heartbeat. (I love MG and YA). I tried to find something in the specificity and credibility check not mentioned much in other comments , but that struck me as credible and that is the narrator’s short sentence fragments that are reactions to the Bald Guy and the uniforms. I found them credible because they resemble inner thoughts, and really work for MG/ YA genres. 🙂

    in reply to: Student: Brenda Davis Homework Thread #42970
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Never Would I Ever

    Brenda Davis

    Contemporary Romance Revision 2

    Wednesday

    To cover her cringe, Charlene said, “Your blunt cut bob is the exact gray as the images. Very stylish.”

    Madison’s brow quirked over her skeletal forehead. “We’re not here to exchange pleasantries. Look closely at the pictures.”

    Charlene curled her bitten-to-the-quick nails into her palms. She didn’t want to guess what would happen next.

    Whatever, it involved change. She hated change. Why couldn’t things just stay—same old, same old—safe? Elbows digging into her sides, she waited, and thought about the gloves. With the 60-degree Spring temperatures, it finally happened, they migrated to the clearance shelf, and after trying them on all winter, she’d snapped them up.

    Smooth as creamed butter, they slid over her chapped hands, enticing her to stop, to linger and to touch them even though she had catheter bags to change, and patients to check on. The gloves belonged to someone brave, someone who didn’t dread moving out of the family bungalow–a world traveler maybe.

    Madison’s blunt cut bob was the exact grey of the security footage printouts she spread across the desk—pictures of Charlene fingering the gloves.

    Charlene’s habitual smile wobbled. She might have popped into the gift shop twice, five, maybe seven times a day, but, okay, too many times. Was this meeting about the gloves? “I didn’t take the gloves. I bought them. The receipt is with them, tucked in my locker.”

    A flush creeping under his freckles, Eugene tugged at the tie he’d never bothered with before the merger.

    “This isn’t about the gloves.” Madison launched another volley of security stills across the desktop–stills of Charlene entering or exiting bathrooms.

    Bathrooms? What did they have to do with anything? When in doubt, be friendly, her mom used to say. “You know there’s another pair if you’re interested.”

    “You’re missing the point. Each of these is time stamped.” In rapid succession, Madison tapped the numbers displayed on the bottom of each surveillance picture. Her manicured nails caused the shots to rustle like dead leaves caught in the wind. “You’re punched in—working and yet, we find you in the gift shop, visiting the restrooms.”

    “I have a thing about washing my hands, but we have a system. I come in half an hour early and stay half an hour late, so my duties always get done.” She tried to catch Eugene’s gaze, but he wouldn’t look at her. Her stomach clenched.

    “Blissdale may have tolerated your shenanigans; however, HealthVantage needs their Certified Nursing Assistants to be on task from punch in to punch out.” She cast a sharp glare at Eugene that signaled his job was on the line, too.

    The pink under his freckles blanched to spoiled hamburger grey. Awkwardly, he came around the desk to plunk a banker’s box onto Charlene’s trembling knees. “We took the liberty of cleaning out your locker.”

    “Couldn’t you let me off with a warning?” Her deflated heart sank, as if it wanted to disappear as much as she did. Charlene barely managed to keep herself and the box from tumbling floorward. “I’ve worked here since I was 16.”

    “Exactly, you’ve had ten years to exacerbate bad habits. Eugene will explain your severance package and walk you out.” Madison curved her thin lips in the facsimile of a smile.

    Apology in the drooping of his jowls, Eugene held open the office door and motioned for her to exit.

    Nothing she could do but pick up her box and walk woodenly through it.

    The door closed behind her, and Eugene glanced at her. “Look at the upside. You can extend tomorrow’s weekend getaway with Rupert for as long as you like.”

    Rupert. Pretty much they’d dated on and off since she was sixteen too. Suddenly her same old, same old didn’t work for him either. Hence the breakaway weekend. Charlene swallowed hard.

    Outside the glass door, Eugene plucked her id clip from her scrubs. “Sorry, we’ve got to turn these in.”

    Was the tightness in his eyes regret? She could almost hear her brother, Ned’s voice in her head—demand a reference. Don’t walk out without it.

    But… but she didn’t demand, and if he refused, she wouldn’t be able to keep her tears at bay. Instead, she nodded dumbly.

    “Keep in touch, okay?” Eugene swayed over her.

    Or maybe she was tilting as her whole world fishtailed.

     

    Thursday

    Waiting for an open spot in the drop off lane at the airport, Charlene read and re-read her text stream while Ned drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.

    Rupert-K, I’ve waited ‘til the day of. Where R we headed?

    Charlene-Sylvania, Ohio.

    Rupert – People go to Paris, Rome, Tahiti. Not Sylvania.

    Charlene- Sylvania is 1 of the safest cities in US.

    Rupert- Don’t want to be safe. Safe = boring. Count me out.

    Charlene sniffled. Common sense screamed she should bail on the weekend getaway even if she couldn’t get her money back. She should tell Ned about her job loss. Yet, she couldn’t really look at him and not see the baby brother her mom had asked her to take care of.  They both had brown hair and eyes and were so average that others’ gazes seemed to roll off them. Ned had inherited their unknown father’s straight hair, but she’d scored their mother’s thick, wavy locks. It was her best feature or would have been if work didn’t require it secured.

    Today, her hair fell over her shoulders. Talk about risk-taking, but maybe it was good she let it hang, ‘cuz it kept Ned from seeing how red her eyes were.

    Her gaze caught on a sandy-haired stranger lodging on the sidewalk, leaning against a backpack and jotting notes on a spiral notepad. He had a pleasant face, the kind a person might tell anything to. He looked up. When their eyes met, he smiled like they were classmates who shared notes, and her whole body warmed from her cheeks down to her always cold fingertips.

    Then an SUV directly in front of the sure-to-be-kind stranger pulled out. Ned eased the wagon into the space, leaned across Charlene and pushed the door open.

    Ahead and behind their station wagon, travelers leaped from barely stopped minivans and raced through automated glass doors. The polite Miss Manners inside her head prodded her— Move it. Don’t take up the time and space others’ need.

    On automatic, she stepped out and collected her mother’s vintage Bermuda green Samsonite from the backseat.

    in reply to: Student: Brenda Davis Homework Thread #42844
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Thanks Kendra,

    You’ve given me lots of food for thought. You’re right I should make Charlene interact with the gloves, make the scene active. Thanks.

    in reply to: Student: Brenda Davis Homework Thread #42783
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Thanks HiDee.

    in reply to: Student: Brenda Davis Homework Thread #42782
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Vicki,

    Thanks for your suggestions. You’re right. I hope to use the gloves as a symbol in the story. And about the names in the first chapter—I will consider whether they’re all needed and make changes as I write the last chapters. I want Charlene to get a Cinderella-type revenge at the end—her oppressors encountering Charlene when she becomes what I plan, so I need the names as placeholders for now.

    Anyway, thanks.

    Brenda

    in reply to: Student: HiDee Ekstrom Homework Thread #42775
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    HiDee,

    I love your new start—it pulled me into the action right away, but, unfortunately being a teacher has flawed me—when I read something good, I wanna make it great, something great and I wanna make is stellar. So I have a few comments and suggestions.

    Instead she’d gone out the back door, snuck around the corner, and there was a man, crouching below her window.

     

    1. Consider have him wobble or stagger or collapse because he’s on the ground in the next sentence.

     

    She stared down at the shadowy figure on the ground. Her fingers ached from the death grip she had on the long-handled flashlight, but she wasn’t about to let go of it.

     

    She blinked and took a deep breath. Maybe her mother was right. Maybe she was too independent for her own good. But she refused to depend on a man who wouldn’t be there, whether she needed him or not. The fact was, he wouldn’t stay

    1. Consider shortening the backstory below because she’s staring at this intruder who just fainted or whatever. (Perhaps she could think of Christy when she first goes out because she wants to protect Christy. )Go through each fact and ask questions like does the reader need to know that her dad left her mom when Dana was ten at this point in the story? If so, keep it. If not, well, you know what to do.

     

    Her dad was a prime example. Bill Taylor had divorced her mother when Dana was ten, hooked up with another woman, and had another child. For sixteen years, he’d doted on his second daughter while Dana got the leftovers of his time, even though they’d been living in the same town. And now he expected her to take care of her half-sister while he was off gallivanting around the country.

    Resentment flowed hotly through her. How could she when Christy was a constant reminder that her dad deserted his first wife and daughter?

    Just as quickly, the resentment cooled. How could she not? Christy was a sweet girl and didn’t deserve to be cheated out of a sister, just because her father had been a jerk. For that matter, she herself didn’t deserve to be cheated out of a sister, either.

     

    I like your next bit a lot.

    She squared her shoulders. She didn’t need a man. In spite of what her mother thought, there was nothing wrong with taking care of herself. She intended to prove it once and for all.

    Dana frowned at the man on the ground…

    “He’s a burglar, not a boyfriend prospect,” she muttered.  3. LOL. I love this!  I’m still learning writing craft, but the rest of this scene has me totally in as a reader. 😊

    It really had been too long since she’d had a date, if she found her burglars’ butt attractive.

    Not that it prevented her from looking.

    She kept her light moving. Above the snug-fitting jeans was a black t-shirt, worn under a black leather jacket. Dark hair curled over the upturned collar. She glanced quickly up and down his backside and sighed. Not a bad package viewed from behind. But who was he, and why was he here?

    She stepped over his body. His head lay in the light spilling from her window, but his face still wasn’t clearly visible thanks to his shaggy hair and dark stubble. She reached out to push his hair aside.
    He moaned and she froze. The man rolled onto his back, and his face landed roughly against her shoe. He groaned and covered his eyes with his arm.

    “J.T. Hawke?” Dana dropped the flashlight and sank down next to him. Her heart squeezed with longing. Was it really him?

    How many times had she imagined him returning to Centerville? But in a million years, she hadn’t expected him to be casing her house. What was he doing here?

    She tucked her legs up Indian-style and gently lifted his head into her lap, pushing his arm away from his face so she could see him better.

    A rush of tenderness filled her.

    “What are you doing here?” she whispered as her hands traced the contours of his face. He hadn’t shaved in days, and dirt dusted his cheek where he had fallen.

    Reality smacked her in the face. She was no better than her mother, lusting after a man she couldn’t have.

    She tried to brush the dirt off but her fingers came away warm and sticky. Dana’s stomach churned as she swallowed past the lump rising in her throat. She felt around, trying to find what had caused the bloody gash on his forehead. Her hand landed on a large rock with a jagged edge. Even in the dim light she could see it was splattered with blood. She tossed the rock under the hedge.

    Hoping none of her nosy neighbors were watching, she removed her chambray shirt and blotted the gash, then wrapped her shirt around his head and knotted the ends. He might have disappeared from her life eight years ago with no explanation, but she couldn’t just leave him bleeding in her yard.

    Yep. Thumbs up for Dana and J.T.’s reunion. Hope I’ve helped.

    Brenda

    in reply to: Student: Vicki Briner Homework Thread #42772
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Hey Vicki,

    I enjoyed your revised version. You’ve got some intriguing action going on, and Arthur’s an interesting guy. I would follow his story, but based on Alicia Rasley’s advice, I have a suggestion for you. What if you started the scene at–

    Drip. Drip. Drip.

    The leaky faucet in the airport’s break room kitchenette was driving him crazy. Agent Arthur Erickson rubbed his forehead and checked his watch. Dammit. Only two minutes since he last looked.

    He stopped mid-stride and sucked in a breath, regretting that third cup of coffee. He needed to relax. The mission depended on it.

    Two weeks ago, the department authorized the operation. Two weeks of long days and sleepless nights. Intelligence work only, they said.

    Seemed easy enough. At the time.

    Sweat beaded on his brow.

    That was the thing about undercover work. It required composure. Awareness. Credibility.

    He could do this. He was good at pretending. (or some better worded hint you come up with)

    Passing himself off as a charter pilot shouldn’t be difficult. Nothing beat six years in the cockpit of an F-16 to make a guy comfortable at the control wheel of a plane. “

    You’re an awesome writer and your start is truly interesting just as Alicia’s examples were, but maybe if you delay Arthur’s backstory, you’ll inspire readers to read on and turn pages to find it.

    I hate throwing out good words, and believe me your words are, but I want to improve, and I know you do too. Sometimes when I get some new craft ideas, I have my reading friends read the before version and the new craft version and ask them which they liked better. I guess that’s what I’d recommend you try.

    Brenda

    in reply to: Student: Brenda Davis Homework Thread #42770
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Thanks HiDee,

    Once Linnea told me what she/ readers needed, I tried to put that in.

    Brenda

     

    in reply to: Student: Brenda Davis Homework Thread #42754
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Never Would I Ever  Try 2 Rewrite

    Brenda Davis

    Contemporary Romance

     
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Wednesday</p>
    If Charlene was superstitious, she’d blame the cashmere gloves with texting fingertips in the gift shop for landing her in HealthVantage’s Human Resource’s office. She hadn’t been in the office since Blissdale added the new wing and had gone from a needs-improvement nursing home to a state-of-the-art assisted living community.

    Truthfully, she’d hoped the merger with HealthVantage meant they’d skip performance reviews this spring.

    No such luck, Charlene sat in a straight-backed chair across from Eugene and HealthVantage’s hatch woman, Madison Echolls, but it had to be okay, right? Eugene wasn’t just the Human Resource Manager. He was her friend.

    Now, she sat curling her bitten-to-the-quick nails into her palms. She didn’t want to guess what would happen next.

    Whatever, it involved change. She hated change. Why couldn’t things just stay—same old, same old—safe? Elbows digging into her sides, she waited, and tried to distract herself by remembering the gloves.

    Smooth as creamed butter, they slid over her chapped hands, enticing her to stop, to linger and to touch them even though she had catheter bags to change, and patients to check on. The gloves belonged to someone brave, someone who didn’t dread moving out of the family bungalow–a world traveler maybe.

    Madison’s blunt cut bob was the exact grey of the security footage printouts she spread across the desk—pictures of Charlene fingering the gloves.

    Charlene nodded. She might have popped into the gift shop twice. Five, maybe seven times, but, okay, too many times. Her habitual smile wobbled. “I didn’t take the gloves. Check the gift shop. They’re there.”

    A flush creeping under his freckles, Eugene tugged at the tie he’d never worn before the merger.

    “This isn’t about the gloves.” Madison launched another volley of security stills across the desk top–stills of Charlene entering or exiting bathrooms.

    Bathrooms? What did they have to do with anything? When in doubt, be friendly her mom used to say. Charlene went for it. “Good. I’m hoping with the warmer weather, the gloves will go on sale, so I can snap them up.”

    “You’re missing the point. Each of these is time stamped.” In rapid succession, Madison tapped the numbers displayed on the bottom of each surveillance picture. Her manicured nails caused the shots to rustle like dead leaves caught in the wind. “You’re punched in—working and yet, we find you in the gift shop, visiting the restrooms.”

    “I have a thing about washing my hands, but we have a system. I come in half an hour early and stay half an hour late, so my duties always get done.” She tried to catch Eugene’s gaze, but he wouldn’t look at her. Her stomach clenched.

    “Blissdale may have enjoyed your shenanigans; however, HealthVantage needs their Certified Nursing Assistants to be on task from punch in to punch out.” She cast a sharp glare at Eugene that signaled his job was on the line, too.

    The pink under his freckles blanched to spoiled hamburger grey. Awkwardly, he came around the desk to plunk a banker’s box onto Charlene’s trembling knees. “We took the liberty of cleaning out your locker.”

    “Couldn’t you let me off with a warning?” Charlene had to catch the box to keep it from tumbling floorward. “I’ve worked here since I was 16.”

    “Exactly, you’ve had ten years to exacerbate bad habits. Eugene will explain your severance package and walk you out.” Madison curved her thin lips in the facsimile of a smile.

    Apology in the drooping of his jowls, Eugene held open the office door, and motioned for her to exit.

    Nothing she could do but pick up her box and walk through it.

    As she did, he offered, “Look at the upside. You can extend tomorrow’s weekend getaway with Rupert for as long as you like.”

    Rupert. Pretty much they’d dated on and off since she was sixteen too. Suddenly her same old, same old didn’t work for him either. Hence the breakaway weekend. Charlene swallowed hard.

    Escorting her out, Eugene babbled about final paychecks, insurance end dates and vacation day cash-outs. Stuff Charlene couldn’t grasp currently.

    In Blissdales’ employee parking lot, Eugene plucked her id clip from her scrubs. “Sorry, we’ve got to turn these in.”

    Was the tightness in his eyes regret? She could almost hear her brother, Ned’s voice in her head—demand a reference. Don’t walk out without it.

    But… but she didn’t demand, and if Eugene refused, she wouldn’t be able to keep her tears at bay. Instead, she nodded dumbly.

    “Keep in touch, okay?” Eugene swayed over her.

    Or maybe she was tilting as her whole world fishtailed.
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Thursday</p>
    Waiting for an open spot in the drop off lane at the airport, Charlene read and re-read her text stream while Ned drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.

    Rupert-K, I’ve waited ‘til the day of. Where R we headed?

    Charlene-Sylvania, Ohio.

    Rupert – People go to Paris, Rome, Tahiti. Not Sylvania.

    Charlene- Sylvania is 1 of the safest cities in US.

    Rupert- Don’t want to be safe. Safe = boring. Count me out.

    Charlene sniffled. Common sense screamed she should bail on the weekend getaway even if she couldn’t get her money back. She should tell Ned about her job loss. Yet, she couldn’t really look at him and not see the baby brother her mom had asked her to take care of.  He’d fret endlessly about meeting expenses with the upcoming baby and all.  She couldn’t face that. Not today. Instead of confessing, she stared out the window.

    Her gaze caught on a sandy-haired stranger lodging on the sidewalk, leaning against a backpack, and jotting notes on a spiral notepad. He had a pleasant face, the kind a person might tell anything to. When their eyes met, he smiled like they were classmates who shared notes, and her whole body warmed from her cheeks down to her always cold fingertips.

    Then an SUV directly in front of the sure-to-be-kind stranger pulled out. Ned eased the wagon into the space, leaned across Charlene and yanked her door handle. It popped open.

    Ahead and behind their station wagon, travelers leaped from barely stopped minivans and raced through automated glass doors. The polite Miss Manners inside her head prodded her— Move it. Don’t take up the time and space others’ need.

    On automatic, she stepped out and collected her mother’s vintage Bermuda green Samsonite from the backseat.

    in reply to: Student: Brenda Davis Homework Thread #42753
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Never Would I Ever

    Brenda Davis

    Contemporary Romance

     
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Wednesday</p>
    If Charlene was superstitious, she’d blame the cashmere gloves with texting fingertips in the gift shop for landing her in HealthVantage’s Human Resource’s office. She hadn’t been in the office since Blissdale added the new wing and had gone from a needs-improvement nursing home to a state-of-the-art assisted living community.

    Truthfully, she’d hoped the merger with HealthVantage meant they’d skip performance reviews this spring.

    No such luck, Charlene sat in a straight-backed chair across from Eugene and HealthVantage’s hatch woman, Madison Echolls, but it had to be okay, right? Eugene wasn’t just the Human Resource Manager. He was her friend.

    Now, she sat curling her bitten-to-the-quick nails into her palms. She didn’t want to guess what would happen next.

    Whatever, it involved change. She hated change. Why couldn’t things just stay—same old, same old—safe? Elbows digging into her sides, she waited, and tried to distract herself by remembering the gloves.

    Smooth as creamed butter, they slid over her chapped hands, enticing her to stop, to linger and to touch them even though she had catheter bags to change, and patients to check on. The gloves belonged to someone brave, someone who didn’t dread moving out of the family bungalow–a world traveler maybe.

    Madison’s blunt cut bob was the exact grey of the security footage printouts she spread across the desk—pictures of Charlene fingering the gloves.

    Charlene nodded. She might have popped into the gift shop twice. Five, maybe seven times, but, okay, too many times. Her habitual smile wobbled. “I didn’t take the gloves. Check the gift shop. They’re there.”

    A flush creeping under his freckles, Eugene tugged at the tie he’d never worn before the merger.

    “This isn’t about the gloves.” Madison launched another volley of security stills across the desk top–stills of Charlene entering or exiting bathrooms.

    Bathrooms? What did they have to do with anything? When in doubt, be friendly her mom used to say. Charlene went for it. “Good. I’m hoping with the warmer weather, the gloves will go on sale, so I can snap them up.”

    “You’re missing the point. Each of these is time stamped.” In rapid succession, Madison tapped the numbers displayed on the bottom of each surveillance picture. Her manicured nails caused the shots to rustle like dead leaves caught in the wind. “You’re punched in—working and yet, we find you in the gift shop, visiting the restrooms.”

    “I have a thing about washing my hands, but we have a system. I come in half an hour early and stay half an hour late, so my duties always get done.” She tried to catch Eugene’s gaze, but he wouldn’t look at her. Her stomach clenched.

    “Blissdale may have enjoyed your shenanigans; however, HealthVantage needs their Certified Nursing Assistants to be on task from punch in to punch out.” She cast a sharp glare at Eugene that signaled his job was on the line, too.

    The pink under his freckles blanched to spoiled hamburger grey. Awkwardly, he came around the desk to plunk a banker’s box onto Charlene’s trembling knees. “We took the liberty of cleaning out your locker.”

    “Couldn’t you let me off with a warning?” Charlene had to catch the box to keep it from tumbling floorward. “I’ve worked here since I was 16.”

    “Exactly, you’ve had ten years to exacerbate bad habits. Eugene will explain your severance package and walk you out.” Madison curved her thin lips in the facsimile of a smile.

    Apology in the drooping of his jowls, Eugene held open the office door, and motioned for her to exit.

    Nothing she could do but pick up her box and walk through it.

    As she did, he offered, “Look at the upside. You can extend tomorrow’s weekend getaway with Rupert for as long as you like.”

    Rupert. Pretty much they’d dated on and off since she was sixteen too. Suddenly her same old, same old didn’t work for him either. Hence the breakaway weekend. Charlene swallowed hard.

    Escorting her out, Eugene babbled about final paychecks, insurance end dates and vacation day cash-outs. Stuff Charlene couldn’t grasp currently.

    In Blissdales’ employee parking lot, Eugene plucked her id clip from her scrubs. “Sorry, we’ve got to turn these in.”

    Was the tightness in his eyes regret? She could almost hear her brother, Ned’s voice in her head—demand a reference. Don’t walk out without it.

    But… but she didn’t demand, and if Eugene refused, she wouldn’t be able to keep her tears at bay. Instead, she nodded dumbly.

    “Keep in touch, okay?” Eugene swayed over her.

    Or maybe she was tilting as her whole world fishtailed.
    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Thursday</p>
    Waiting for an open spot in the drop off lane at the airport, Charlene read and re-read her text stream while Ned drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.

    Rupert-K, I’ve waited ‘til the day of. Where R we headed?

    Charlene-Sylvania, Ohio.

    Rupert – People go to Paris, Rome, Tahiti. Not Sylvania.

    Charlene- Sylvania is 1 of the safest cities in US.

    Rupert- Don’t want to be safe. Safe = boring. Count me out.

    Charlene sniffled. Common sense screamed she should bail on the weekend getaway even if she couldn’t get her money back. She should tell Ned about her job loss. Yet, she couldn’t really look at him and not see the baby brother her mom had asked her to take care of.  He’d fret endlessly about meeting expenses with the upcoming baby and all.  She couldn’t face that. Not today. Instead of confessing, she stared out the window.

    Her gaze caught on a sandy-haired stranger lodging on the sidewalk, leaning against a backpack, and jotting notes on a spiral notepad. He had a pleasant face, the kind a person might tell anything to. When their eyes met, he smiled like they were classmates who shared notes, and her whole body warmed from her cheeks down to her always cold fingertips.

    Then an SUV directly in front of the sure-to-be-kind stranger pulled out. Ned eased the wagon into the space, leaned across Charlene and yanked her door handle. It popped open.

    Ahead and behind their station wagon, travelers leaped from barely stopped minivans and raced through automated glass doors. The polite Miss Manners inside her head prodded her— Move it. Don’t take up the time and space others’ need.

    On automatic, she stepped out and collected her mother’s vintage Bermuda green Samsonite from the backseat.

    in reply to: Student: Brenda Davis Homework Thread #42740
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Hey Linnea,

    I appreciate your kind critique. Thanks for pointing out what you needed to know as a reader. Am I right in assuming we should rewrite and resubmit for the next lesson?

    in reply to: Student: Kate MacEachern Homework Thread #42728
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Kate,

    I’m a Brent Weeks fan. In my humble opinion his Prism series just gets better and better.

    Brenda

    in reply to: Student: Juliette Hyland Homework Thread #42670
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Hi Rachel,

    I love your beginning pages.  Debt has forced Edward James Douglas Winter, Earl of Delbar to marry a beautiful stranger. (How scary to marry someone you don’t know at all.) He’s determined not to fall for a pretty face/ and go into further debt like his father did, but when the carriage hits a rough patch, he gallantly catches his wife and feels attraction—the push and pull of romance starts, and I’m in. She’s civil but cold. I’m guessing he’ll warm to his wife (and she to him) as he gets to know her, but I’m hoping for sparks. I’d read this because I’m sure the journey will be enchanting. Great work. And let me, when you finish this ‘cuz, I’d love to read it.

    Brenda

    in reply to: Student: HiDee Ekstrom Homework Thread #42668
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    HiDee,

    Wow, great start. You’ve done an excellent job building J.T. Hawke’s character, and his history. It’s clear he has friends like Miles, who he cares for deeply, and his care helps readers like him. Also, his concern for his sister is touching. I love the fact that he’ll have to confront his ex-girlfriend, and her sister as he investigates.

    However, for me, there’s a lot of backstory, and a lot of characters mentioned in the initial pages that I feel I need to keep track of.  Consider adding more action and sharing only the most important bits of background as J.T. works on discovering what’s in the house. By the way, I love all the details you describe about the house like the time on the neon clock. I’d read on to find out what the investigation is about and how J.T. deals with Christy, Liz and Dana.

    Brenda

     

    in reply to: Student: Brenda Davis Homework Thread #42648
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Never Would I Ever

    Brenda Davis

    Contemporary Romance

    If Charlene was superstitious, she’d blame the cashmere gloves with texting fingertips for landing her in Eugene’s office. Smooth as creamed butter, they slid over her chapped hands, enticing her to stop, to linger and to touch them. They belonged to someone brave, someone who didn’t dread moving out of the family bungalow—a world traveler maybe.

    She might have popped into the gift shop twice. Okay, twelve times. Really, though, it was the security cameras accompanying Blissdale’s merge with Health Vantage that had her in a straight-backed chair across from Eugene and Health Vantage’s hatch woman, Madison Echolls.

    Charlene didn’t want to guess…even think what would happen next. Whatever, it involved change. She hated change. Why couldn’t things just stay—same old, same old—safe? Elbows digging into her sides, she waited.

    Madison’s blunt cut bob was the exact grey of the security footage printouts she spread across the desk—pictures of Charlene fingering the gloves.

    The smile Charlene habitually wore wobbled. “I didn’t take the gloves. Check the gift shop. They’re there.”

    A flush creeping under his freckles, Eugene chewed his lip.

    “This isn’t about the gloves.” Madison launched another volley of security stills across the desk top–stills of Charlene entering or exiting bathrooms.

    Bathrooms? What did they have to do with anything? When in doubt, be friendly her mom used to say. Charlene went for it. “Good. I’m hoping with the warmer weather, the gloves will go on sale, so I can snap them up.”

    “You’re missing the point. Each of these is time stamped.” In rapid succession, Madison tapped the numbers displayed on the bottom of each surveillance picture. Her manicured nails caused the shots to rustle like dead leaves caught in the wind. “You’re punched in—working and yet, we find you in the gift shop, using the restrooms.”

    “I have a thing about washing my hands, but we have a system. I come in half an hour early and stay half an hour late, so my duties always get done.” She tried to catch Eugene’s gaze, but he wouldn’t look at her. Her stomach clenched.

    “Blissdale may have enjoyed your shenanigans; however, Health Vantage needs their Certified Nursing Assistants to be on task from punch in to punch out.” She cast a sharp glare at Eugene that signaled his job was on the line, too.

    The pink under his freckles blanched to spoiled hamburger grey. Awkwardly, he came around the desk to plunk a banker’s box onto Charlene’s trembling knees. “We took the liberty of cleaning out your locker.”

    “Couldn’t you let me off with a warning?” Charlene had to catch the box to keep it from tumbling floorward. “I’ve worked here since I was 16.”
    “Exactly, you’ve had ten years to exacerbate bad habits. Eugene will explain your severance package and walk you out.” Madison curved her thin lips in the facsimile of a smile.

    Apology in the drooping of his jowls, Eugene held open the office door, and motioned for her to exit.

    Nothing she could do but pick up her box and walk through it.

    As she did, he offered, “Look at the upside. You can extend your weekend getaway with Rupert for as long as you like.”

    Rupert. Pretty much they’d dated on and off since she was sixteen too. Suddenly her same old, same old didn’t work for him either. Hence the breakaway weekend. Charlene swallowed hard.

    Outside the glass door, Eugene plucked her id clip from her scrubs. “Sorry, we’ve got to turn these in.”

    Was the tightness in his eyes regret? She could almost hear her brother’s voice in her head—demand a reference. Don’t walk out without it.

    But… but she didn’t demand, and if he said no, she wouldn’t be able to keep her tears at bay. Instead, she nodded dumbly.

    “Keep in touch, okay?” Eugene swayed over her.

    Or maybe she was tilting as her whole world fishtailed.

     

    Waiting for an open spot in the drop off lane at the airport, Charlene read and re-read her text stream while Ned drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.

    Rupert-K, I’ve waited ‘til the day of. Where R we headed?

    Charlene-Sylvania, Ohio.

    Rupert – People go to Paris, Rome, Tahiti. Not Sylvania.

    Charlene- Sylvania is 1 of the safest cities in US.

    Rupert- Don’t want to be safe. Safe = boring. Count me out.

    Charlene sniffled. Common sense screamed she should bail on the weekend getaway and tell Ned about her job loss. Yet, she couldn’t really look at him and not see the baby brother her mom had asked her to take care of.  He had brown hair and brown eyes like her. Both were average, so average as to be unnoticed, people others’ gazes rolled off. Ned had straight hair from the father they’d never known whereas she had her mom’s wavy hair. Thick and wavy. Probably her best feature or it would have been if work didn’t require her to tug it back into a ponytail or a chignon.

    Today, her hair fell over her shoulders. Talk about risk-taking, but maybe it was good she let it hang, ‘cuz it kept Ned from seeing how red her eyes were.

    Her gaze caught on a sandy-haired stranger sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against a backpack, and jotting notes on a spiral notepad. He had a pleasant face, the kind a person might tell anything to. When their eyes met, he smiled like they were classmates who shared notes, but they weren’t.

    Then a space directly in front of the sure-to-be-kind stranger opened up. Ned pulled the wagon into it, leaned across Charlene and yanked door handle. The door popped open.

    Ahead and behind their station wagon, travelers leaped from barely stopped minivans and raced through automated glass doors. The polite Miss Manners inside her head prodded her— Move it. Don’t take up the time and space others’ need.

    On automatic, she stepped out and collected her mother’s vintage Bermuda green Samsonite from the backseat.

    in reply to: Student: Brenda Davis Homework Thread #42625
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Brenda’s Lesson 3

    Pure, a YA Dystopian, by Julianna Baggott

    Pressia is lying in the cabinet. This is where she’ll sleep once she turns sixteen in two weeks—the tight press of blackened plywood pinching her shoulders, the muffled air, the stalled motes of ash. She’ll have to be good to survive this—good and quiet and, at night when the OSR patrols the streets, hidden.

    She nudges the door open with her elbow, and there sites her grandfather, settled into his chair next to the alley door. The fan lodged in his throat whirs quietly; the small plastic blades spin one way when he draws in a breath and the opposite way when he breathes out. She’s so used to the fan that she’ll go months without really noticing it, then there will be a moment, like this one, when she feels disengaged from her life and everything surprises.

    “So, do you think you can sleep in there?” he asks. “Do you like it?

    She hates the cabinet, but she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. “I feel like a comb in a box,” she says. They live in the back-storage room of a burned-out barbershop. It’s a small room with a table, two chairs, two old pallets on the floor, one where her grandfather now sleeps and her old one, and a handmade birdcage hung from a hook on the ceiling. They could come and go through the storage room’s back door, which leads to an alley. During the before, this cabinet held barbershop supplies—boxes of black combs, bottles blue Barbasol, shaving cream canisters, neatly folded hand towels, white smocks that snapped around the neck. She’s pretty sure that she’ll have dreams of being blue Barbasol trapped in a bottle.

    Her grandfather starts coughing; the fan spins wildly. His face flushes to a rubied purple. Pressia climbs out of the cabinet., walks quickly to him, and claps him on the back, pounds his ribs. Because of the cough, people have stopped coming around for his services—he was a mortician during the Before and then became known as a flesh-tailor, applying his skills with the dead to the living. Now people think he’s infected.

    Slowly, he catches his breath. He nods. “Fine.” He picks up his brick from the floor and rests it on his one stumped leg, just above its seared clot of wires. The brick is his only protection against the OSR. “This sleeping cabinet is the best we’ve got, her grandfather says. “Just give it time.”

     

    This beginning aroused my curiosity, and then my symphony. Why does Pressia need to hide in the cabinet? What is the OSR? And how can her ailing grandfather even hope to protect himself with only a brick?  Plus, I’m wondering what grandfather’s job as a flesh-tailor involves, and what caused the Before to end. I’m definitely motivated to read on. Also, I like that Pressia and her grandfather care for each other and that they seem to be in desperate straits even before this OSR shows up.  The story also starts at the moment of change, which seems to be the MC’s approaching birthday.

    in reply to: Student: Brenda Davis Homework Thread #42446
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Lesson 2

    Story B-Alona Dare

    Change- Life/extinction—The narrator went from living to some undead existence, so maybe also mutilation as she’s lost her physical form

    Emotions-The narrator feels fear, wonder, confusion, and determination to get to the bottom of what’s going on

    What caught my interest—I like the narrator’s slightly snarky voice. Even though she’s dead, a ghost I’m guessing, she’s plucky and will likely survive.

     

    Story D

    Change- Life/ extinction—His wife is dead. And as an ex, he’s already a person of interest/ if he’s caught there, well, he’s Suspect Number 1. Also, he needs to worry about and figure out what his wife’s killers are going to do next.

    Emotions- Outside the door, the main character feels dread, maybe in seeing his ex-wife, then in smelling what might be death, worry over what he’s figuring out might have happened. Hope as he reasons the smell might be a dead raccoon. Then grief as he opens the door and sees his ex-wife dead.

    What caught my interest—Wow, so much is happening on the first page, so much emotion is detailed. I’m pulled in and want to read more.

    Ah-ha moment—. All the examples pulled me in within a few short paragraphs. I connected with the main characters and started to worry about their situations. I’m impressed. I need to really work my first pages, try to nail the change from normal and what’s at stake as early as possible.

    in reply to: Student: Brenda Davis Homework Thread #42305
    Brenda Nelson-Davis
    Participant

    Brenda Lesson 1

     

    Lisa Cron and Dwight V. Swain are two of my favorite writing craft teachers/authors, yet I’ve never put their teachings together.

    You’re so right!  — “Craving and tension complete each other. Craving is I WANT. Tension is WILL I GET MY ‘WANT’ AND WHEN (AND HOW WILL I COPE IF I DON’T)?”

    Wow, I’m just going to let that play on a loop in my head for a while.

     

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