A few weeks ago, Irishey gave me the sweetest compliment a writer could receive.
I bet you could write about bubble gum and concrete and make it compelling.
I’m always intrigued by off-the-wall propositions, so I accepted her challenge. Write about bubble gum and concrete and make it interesting? Okay!
For my setting and characters, I chose Spring from Editorial Board. Roz’s wonderful review has gotten me thinking about a sequel, and Spring’s profession as an author made it a logical choice. Plus, I wanted to see more of the dynamic between feisty Spring and her editor, Rachel. Spring has struggled with writer’s block for a long time, and Rachel helps her by grounding her in everyday observation. (And a paddle swat or two!)
I present to you, “Of bubble gum and concrete,” for Irishey:
“Good work,” Rachel said. A month or two I might have bitten her head off for condescending. Who did she think she was, former newspaper editor passing judgment on Spring Meadows? This time, however, I ducked my head to hide the smile threatening to spread across my face. I was so intent on avoiding her gaze that I didn’t watch where I was going, and my right foot landed on something sticky.
“Dang it!” Okay, maybe those weren’t the exact words I used. I dragged my foot so hard I scuffed the tip of my shoe against the pavement. I kept my head down. If I didn’t look back, maybe Rachel would pretend not to have seen.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
I slid my foot in a scoot-hop step worthy of an elderly shuffleboard competition, trying to scrape the disgusting mess off the back of my shoe. I pretended not to hear, concentrating on the crunch of leather against concrete. Before I could stride toward my car, Rachel came toward me. Horrified, I backed away only for my other foot to land on the crevice between sidewalk and grass. My hand flew outward to keep balance, and Rachel took it.
“Are you hurt?” Rachel slid my purse back onto my shoulder. It had fallen to the crook of my elbow.
“I’m fine,” I muttered. As if it weren’t bad enough she had seen me in my pajamas, now she had to watch me make a fool of myself, too. I yanked my foot away from the sidewalk, leaving a smeared, stretchy mass of bright-pink strings stretching out from a lump. If brats these days didn’t know how to find a garbage can, I’d have to teach them. It would take ages to get my shoe clean.
Her hand brushed against my shoulder, the faint warmth and pressure holding me steady. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you about your openings,” she said, pointing toward the not-found-in-nature pile of bubble gum. Strawberry flavored, I thought, from the color. “You have to grab your reader and trip them up, catching them in their tracks.”
I scowled at her. She and her “editorial board” may have helped my writing, but I’m under no obligation to listen to lectures on the sidewalk. “Some idiot kid littered public property, and you’re trying to turn it into a lesson?”
She threw her head back, laughing as her eyes glittered a challenge. “So prove me wrong. Go home and write a new opening, one that will make your reader lose a shoe and fall into the arms of her ever-patient editor.”
I stomped to my car without an answer. I will, I thought. The bulge underneath my shoe stuck to the gas pedal, and I cursed as I revved my way out of the parking lot.
Bubble gum, I sniffed. I’ll show her.
It took me three paragraphs into my new opening scene to realize Rachel had won. Again.
Award-winning author Spring Meadows and newspaper-turned-literary editor Rachel Templeton have one thing in common: they can’t stand each other. Spring is sure that her bestselling talents single-handedly keep her publishing company afloat, while Rachel would like nothing better than to take this smart-mouthed, button-pushing prima donna down a peg or two. When Spring makes the fatal mistake of accusing Rachel of sexual misconduct, Rachel decides to teach her a lesson.
“What is an author to an editor?” Spring asks herself. If only she had been prepared for Rachel’s answer…