Uncategorized, writing

Switching Gears Yet Again

Welcome to another version of WIPpet, the work in progress extravaganza run by the intrepid K.L. Schwengel. To participate, make sure the snippet of your work in progress has something – however tenuous – to do with today’s date. I’m going short and sweet today, and switching gears as I do so frequently. Last week I posted a bit from my children’s nonfiction history book – thankfully I was able to send out the requested chapters to an agent who displayed the barest hint of interest in it, so now there’s nothing to do but wait and drive myself up the wall, or work on something else entirely. This snippet is from Whiter Pastures, the first volume of my Icebound series, which is a sort of alternate history of the polar regions of the planet from about 1880 – 1930. Here is 18 sentences (10 + 8 = 189) from the story’s beginning. All comments, reactions, whatever are welcome. Oh, and the rather unusual spellings of the names are intentional.

The coal pan in the bottom of the room heater had jammed again. Florance tried all her usual fixes: shoving it in further and yanking it out quickly, shimmying it from side to side, wedging the metal handle of her favorite scrub brush in it to pry it open, but nothing would work.

“Do you have to make such a racket, girl?” Electa said in a voice which somehow managed to communicate boredom, disdain, and irritation all at once. She didn’t bother looking up from her typewriter. She was plucking the keys one by one, hunting and pecking for each one as if she were a particularly choosy hen searching for the perfect piece of corn.

Florance gritted her teeth. Electa knew her name – Florance had informed her of it on at least three separate occasions – but she couldn’t be bothered to call her anything other than girl. When she deigned to speak to her at all, that is.

It vexed Florance that people insisted upon referring to her as a girl when eternal spinsterhood was drawing ever nearer the closer she got to 30. Florance knew the reason for it, though. She was a rather quiet person usually, not a stupid one. The help always had to scurry around – seen but not heard — while the decent people went on with the important work. Her ability to be so very invisible had brought her here to begin with, after all.

With a discordant screech, the coal pan slid free, unbalancing Florance so that she landed squarely on her bustle. Coal dust puffed up in a cloud around her. Florance sneezed. Electa rolled her kohl-lined, brilliantly-blue eyes in exasperation.

That’s it for this week. Join along if you like:

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11 thoughts on “Switching Gears Yet Again”

  1. Oooh, I’ve never been called ‘intrepid’. I like it! 😀

    And I like this snippet as well. Very interesting and definitely has piqued my curiosity. Although, I already don’t like Electa.

    Good luck on the history book. Keep us posted.

  2. I loved the stubborn coal pan, and the way you described its resistance. It created an immediate connection – we’ve all been there (not necessarily with a coal pan!). I also like the way you ended the scene – how it punctuated the characters frustration! Good luck with the submission 🙂

  3. Oh no, almost 30 and not married yet? Poor thing! 😉 By the way, I thanked you on my blog but just in case you didn’t see it, thank you so much for your feedback on the blurb today.

  4. I actually did kind of like Electa. The eyeroll at the end gave me a slight glimmer of hope that she isn’t a total bitch.

    Good luck with the agent who has the slightest bit of interest. Fingers crossed for ya.

  5. “She was plucking the keys one by one, hunting and pecking for each one as if she were a particularly choosy hen searching for the perfect piece of corn.”

    That’s me. That’s why I make so many mistakes when typing online. 🙂 If I try to type faster than 20 WPM, my fingers go haywire.

    I like this one. I think I’ll go back and check out the children’s history one, too, soon. 🙂

  6. I’m torn between disliking Electa and agreeing with Sirena that maybe there’s hope for her. The part about the coal pan was vivid and amusing. 🙂

    Good luck with your submission…waiting is horrible.

  7. Stubborn bleeping coal pan…grumble grouch growl….

    I love the typing, and want to know what Electa’s about with it. I was a little surprised to read chicken and corn reference – would those things be part of a polar life?

    You definitely put us right into the moment, and kept us there!

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