Sunday, August 13, 2006

New Beginning 70


Maggie hung up the phone but wanted to bang herself over the head with it. Two phone calls within 20 minutes came in the wrong order.

“That could have been my biggest break ever!” She spun around and flopped on her sofa, landing in the spot where the springs had given out.

As she flailed to get out of the sofa swamp, she watched pigeons flying over the roof of St. Cyril Church, across miles of roof tops, trees, and interstates towards the hazy Chicago sky line. Glittering high rises overlooked the turquoise water of Lake Michigan.

She wanted one of the those offices.

But now ...“Why did Katie call so early? Why does Indiana have to be on Eastern time? She calls me an hour early, and I agree to house-sit the farm and the kids, and then Patrice calls. With the deal of a lifetime!”

It wasn't like Maggie to renege, but surely Katie would understand. She phoned, and was relieved to get Katie's machine. "Sorry, sis," she said, "but can't help you after all. Patrice just called with the deal of a lifetime. I'm off to New York to meet Evil Editor and get my book published. I'll make a bazillion dollars and buy Chicago suburb real estate! Talk to you next month."

She hated to disappoint Katie, but hey, an Indiana farm with a bunch of squalling kids, or New York City with a charming and strikingly handsome editor? It was an easy decision.


Continuation: Kate Thornton

23 comments:

Cathy said...

The beginning is intriguing, but I think it could be more clear. I got a bit lost when she was flailing on the couch and seeing pidgeons flying over the church roof. Is she looking out a large window at the skyline? Is she visiting someone else's office?

Maybe it's just me.

Anonymous said...

Okay, tell us true, EE, you wrote this continuation yourself, right?

Anonymous said...

"Maggie hung up the phone but wanted to bang herself over the head with it." -- needs editing, because it doesn't read well.

Maggie hung up the phone and hit her head lightly against the wall. Two phone calls in 20 minutes, but in the wrong order.

Or something ... what I wrote isn't good, but keep tweaking.

OTOH, the deal with EE sounds great. :-)

Anonymous said...

Parts of Indiana are on Eastern time. Other parts are in Central time. Which parts, however, depend upon which part of the year it is. Might want to edit a little to say "this part of Indiana, now on Eastern time..."

-c- said...

As for the Indiana time zone thing, I tend to get lost in these sorts of detais myself, and I have learned its better to just cut them out. I suggest you just have the woman call an hour earlier and not explain why.

mark said...

As she flailed to get out of the sofa swamp, she watched pigeons flying over the roof of St. Cyril Church, across miles of roof tops, trees, and interstates towards the hazy Chicago sky line. Glittering high rises overlooked the turquoise water of Lake Michigan.

My question, as a Chicagoan, is "where the hell are we?" If you've got miles of rooftops, and at least one interstate, between you and the Loop, you're also too far from the lake to see what color it is. (Its color varies tremendously, depending on season, cloud cover, weather, etc.) And do not try to solve this problem with a hill, because there are none.

Also, the skyline can be either glittering or hazy, but cannot be both at the same time.

Oh, and to anonymous #3: Beginning spring 2006, the entire state of Indiana goes on daylight time. So the part that's Eastern time is now on Eastern year round. Solves that problem.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Cathy, that confused me too.

I always knew, however, that EE would be strikingly handsome. Glad to see that confirmed!

xiqay said...

This opening helps me understand the dislike by agents and editors of backstory embedded in internal monologue or dialogue. (See that wonderful self-editing book by Renni Browne).

None of the internal monologue sounds real to me. Wouldn't this character just say-"oh shoot" or "*@#%*" and "What am I going to do now?" Would her true internal dialogue lay it out so nicely for the reader? I don't think so. It sounds false.

The oh-so-subtle (not) description to identify setting doesn't work for me either. For the same reason, it seems to be the author setting the scene. Author intrusion pulls me out, not into the story.

On the other hand, I like the premise as an place to open the story. I can truly understand having agreed to do something and moments later getting a call to do something better. And while the continuation is brilliant and funny, I'd still want to keep reading if that was the plot problem! Family versus career--it worked for the Devil Wears Prada (well, okay that was love versus career, but close enough).

And I liked the phrase "glittering high rises"--nice.

It's been a long time since I visited Chicago, but I don't remember Lake Michigan being turquoise. I live in the tropics now, where we truly have water that is turquoise in our lagoon, so your color choice didn't seem real to me, but maybe it's true.

Good luck.


Word verification--mt qahp--sounds like a nice setting!

Cathy said...

Maggie wanted to bang herself over the head with the phone. She hung up instead.

face lift 142 said...

Don't be intimidated, author. I lived in Chi for years and I can easily imagine locations along I55 from which the scene you decribed is perfectly plausible in the simultaneously gauzy and glittering veils of fictive memory. I also know that fiction is inherently deniable in the terms of journalistic reportage.
- Dürer changed
the pine green of the Tyrol to peacock blue and guinea
gray.

McKoala said...

Yes, I see why EE chose that continuation...

I'm afraid the whole first paragraph threw me a bit - neither sentence seeemed to be particularly well-structured. I'm not familiar with Chicago, but I did wonder what angle her sofa was at to allow her to see all these things.

PicAxe said...

Oh, my, but this kind of nitpickery makes me crazy:

Parts of Indiana are on Eastern time. Other parts are in Central time. Which parts, however, depend upon which part of the year it is. Might want to edit a little to say "this part of Indiana, now on Eastern time..."

I did find the opening confusing, though, but then I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn last night.

Anonymous said...

This threw me: As she flailed to get out of the sofa swamp, she watched pigeons flying over the roof of St. Cyril Church...

I really don't see how you can flail and take in a scenic vista at the same time. If nothing else it creates an odd mental image of a woman waving her arms wildly as she gazes vacantly into space.

mark said...

For what it's worth, xiquay, the lake can be any number of colors, and turquoise is definitely among them. It ranges from a sort of teal all the way to deep azure, with all the possibilities in between. And sometimes it's not even the same color all at once. It's like a mood ring.

So the author's choice of color is a good one.

Kanani said...

Language conveys imagery, which in turn tells the reader everything about the narrator, main character, mood, time and place.

Unintentionally, you have some words strung together that convey very strange images.
"but wanted to bang herself over the head with it."
Sorry, but what I come up with is a half-wit hitting her head with the phone like a club. It's a rather unpleasant image. Try to find another way to say that she's frustrated or disappointed. Don't be afraid to have her doing something while taking that call. Perhaps she slammed the phone down, tossed it across the room, or perhaps she started pacing..... anything but hitting herself with it. (What would a person really do if they felt they had to turn down a good situation?).

"flailed to get out of the sofa swamp." Help! It's Paris Hilton in her latest movie: Attack of The Sofa Monster!

I can't argue geography, but look how well this works in contrast to the above:
she watched pigeons flying over the roof of St. Cyril Church, across miles of roof tops, trees, and interstates towards the hazy Chicago sky line. Glittering high rises overlooked the turquoise water of Lake Michigan.

That's because you know it, or you're comfortable with describing physical descriptions. Now what you need to get comfortable with is describing feelings: helplessness, failure, frustration. Try using gestures, thought or dialogue that are straight forward and less dramatic.

Thanks for tossing this up here. Good luck with the rewrite!

anonyme said...

I agree with you xiqay about the internal monologue - it didn't ring true to me either but maybe that's because, in the same position, I'd let loose a string of colorful expletives myself.

Nut said...

Charming and strikingly handsome? Lies! I got my crystal nut right here. Take a deep breath, girls. He's Gorgeous!!!!

Cathy said...

Who are we looking at? I see Johnny Depp dressed as a scurvy pirate!!!

G-d, I love that look! It reminds me of my groupie days. Too bad I'm faithful to EE.

Anonymous said...

I'd take Johnny Depp any day, dressed or undressed.

author intrusion said...

Author here. Interesting comments.

We were just at Lake Michigan yesterday and with a weather front moving in, the water color changed from blue to gray to green over the sand bars and surprisingly, mauve along the horizon.

This year all of Indiana is on Eastern Time.

Good points about Maggie hitting herself in the head with the phone. Maybe she should be on the Metra heading downtown.

Guess the kids and I have been watching "Stooge-a-Palooza" too often!

Virginia Miss said...

Good situation, it can draw in the reader, and a likable character, but as written, it needs a little tweaking.

I like Cathy's suggestion for the first paragraph: Maggie wanted to bang herself over the head with the phone. She hung up instead.

I agree with previous commenters about the pigeons. I think you are better off not giving too much description yet; keep in your pov character. What Maggie would notice here would be the glittering high rises of the skyline rising over the lake.

I like the line "She wanted one of those offices."

Consider having her do something else before seeing the view, instead of spinning, flopping on the sofa, then flailing to get out of it. Maybe she throws something?

You may make your point about bad timing more clear without the time zone stuff, I think it just confuses the issue.

I second xiqay's advice about Renni Browne's Self Editing -- my bible. Is this interior monologue or is she speaking to someone else?

Nut said...

Ladies, prepare your self for a shock of a lifetime. Johnny Depp is just a whoopy boy, next to the pure adonis, that is EE!

However, strikingly beautiful Mrs EE packs a punch. I was just picking through the crystal nut, when WHAM! she gave me a nose bleed. So, don't let her catch you tailing after Mr EE.

Off to apply an ice patch to the bloody pulp, that used to be my nose. And, Mrs EE, look, I was just looking to query him...

Frainstorm said...

Well, just goes to show you how different readers take things differently. I loved this opening. I happen to love Chicago too, although I don't live there.

The only thing that didn't work for me (although nobody else brought it up, so who cares now?) is the "sofa swamp." Don't know exactly, that just sounded wrong to me, although I understood the imagery you were going for.

Oh, I'd also remove the quotation marks in the final paragraph. But then I'd absolutely keep reading. Good luck!
John