Good morning and Happy Halloween. I hope the weather won’t interfere with trick or treating. Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales.
Each week, a group of talented writers use a specific word or picture prompt as they work their way through a work in progress. My current novel for this is titled, Same Time Next Year, although that may change, and is women’s fiction rather than my usual romance. There are two stories here. The first, and main plot, is that of an older woman’s attempt to right the wrongs in her past. The second is a seventeen-year old’s last summer of innocence, written as a book within a book. I’ve never attempted anything like this. So fingers crossed that it works!
This week’s word prompt is GHOST. Enjoy.
Twyla stared at the blank screen. She’d been so sure the book would write itself, and here she was with nothing to show after more than eight hours of work. She’d written, deleted, rewritten, and erased again. Damn. She didn’t even have a title. Words were her life, and here she was unable to put together a simple opening paragraph. Where the hell had her muse gone?
She shook herself. Maybe this was her inspiration’s way of telling her it wasn’t going to work the way it had before. If she wanted to tell her story, share her pain, bare her soul, perhaps she had to find another way to do it.
While her usual style involved the hero-heroine point of view, written in the third person, this time she only had her own memories to draw on. No matter how hard she tried to imagine it, she didn’t know what had gone on behind Michael’s gorgeous, blue eyes, Billie’s eyes that brought back the pain each time they glared at her, and probably never would.
He’d said he loved her and wanted to be with her. How naïve she’d been. When the time had come to put his money where his mouth was, as her father would’ve said, he’d shown his true colors. He’d never answered her letters, never even bothered to acknowledge her plight, never called.
What choice had she had? Did she regret her decision? No. She and William had both saved face, but how she wished everything could’ve turned out differently.
She sighed. Maybe she should consider writing this as a journal. It wouldn’t be the first book written that way. Or perhaps she should consider a stream of consciousness story. Tomayto—tomahto. Did it really matter? She’d never attempted either, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t do it. Judging by the lack of progress she’d made so far, what did she have to lose?
Ethan and William would enjoy the irony of the twenty-first century. They’d all be free to live the lives they wanted now unlike in 1967, when following society’s rules and dictates had been vital. Fifty years. So much had changed and yet so much remained the same. Progress never came without pain.
The ghost of a smile played across her lips. Of course. What else could she call it? It had been a beginning, not an end. Centering the document, she typed. Seeds of Life, Dawn Williams, Romance. She read the words several times. Titles were important.
Screwing up her face, she deleted Romance and changed it to Women’s Fiction. After all, there was no happily ever after for this story.
She stood, went over to the coffeemaker and brewed a fresh cup of joe. She probably drank more of it than her cardiologist liked, but every author she knew ran on caffeine and inspiration. While she waited, she glanced around her one-room cabin.
Housekeeping had been in while she and Lana had been at breakfast. The massive king-size bed was neatly made, its white quilt straightened, and the fluffy pillows, including the one with the inn’s logo, all lined up at the head. The sofa bed was a couch once more and would stay that way since Lana had left almost two hours ago. While she’d miss her granddaughter who reminded her so much of herself back then, she needed alone time to do this—if she could.
After doctoring her coffee the way she liked it, Twyla felt that writer insecurity, that fear of failure that dogged each new novel, plague her once more. No matter how many books she wrote, she always started a new one wondering if she was crazy to be doing it, but this time instead of nagging whispers, the voices were quiet screams. Maybe the whole idea was too preposterous to work. Seriously, who’d want to read about old-fashion ideas and a young girl’s first love? She huffed out a breath. She would, if only to learn from someone else’s mistakes.
Reaching for her MP3 player, she hooked it into her laptop and called up her playlist. Normally, she worked in silence, but maybe this time, she needed inspiration from elsewhere, too.
“The Letter” filled the room. She’d made a list of the top one hundred songs of 1966 and 1967 to get her into the mood, to drag her back through time. Closing her eyes, she listened to the Box Tops. Why hadn’t Michael moved Heaven and Earth to come for her the way the lyrics said? She’d sent him the letter. Why had he never answered it?
As Frankie Valli’s voice filled the room with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” she began to type.
The summer of 1967 was both the best year of my life and the worst. As Charles Dickens put it in A tale of Two Cities,
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…
It’s strange how little things can bring back memories so painful they make you want to curl up into a ball and die, and at other times, the recollections have you laughing so hard, your sides ache. Sad tears, happy tears. Is there a difference? Tears are tears, and after a lifetime of crying, I know they can’t change anything.
That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on Tuesday Tales.
Same Time Next Year isn’t the only book born on Tuesday Tales. Check out Hello Again, my paranormal/suspense/romance available from Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Hello-Again-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B01FGN88I6