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Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Blast From the Past is Blowing Me Away

~~ by Vonnie Davis

Calvin and I used to belong to a local writers' group that met every Tuesday. For awhile, we did writers' prompts and shared our short, short stories. One prompt was: "Write 500 words about someone finding something hidden in a tin can."

I wrote a tale about a carpenter doing a remodeling job and tearing out a wall. Behind it he finds an advertising tin box filled with love letters, a charm bracelet, and other mementos from WW II. He takes the tin home, reads the letters of an ill-fated love, and decides to find the owner of this tin can. Doing an online search, he discovers the man has passed away, but the woman who married another to give their baby a name and a father figure is still living.

The carpenter calls her to explain what he's found. Would she like to have it back? Her reply is very positive and he visits her in a nursing home. As she pours over the items, she shares long-held secrets. He returns to see her every week and a friendship blooms.

I kept thinking, with some changes, wouldn't this make a great romance? From time to time, the story would rise to the forefront of what gray matter I have left and I'd think, "yeah, I'll have to get around to that story sometime."

Well, ladies, sometime arrived and parked it's rusty RV in my front yard. Not really, but you know what I mean. The story bugged me constantly until I stopped working on the two bear shifter stories I was writing--one in the Scottish Highlands and the other on a fictitious island off of Scotland--and wrote Chapter One of The Golden Charm. That was two weeks ago and I'm on Chapter Nine now.

My biggest decision was whose romance would I focus on? The one told of in the letters between Mary Beth and Jimmy  or one between the carpenter and Mary Beth's granddaughter? I decided on both. What was I thinking?

I changed the war to the Vietnam War and had Mary Beth graduate in 1966 when I did. I recall vividly the hairstyles, dress, and social attitudes of that time. Mary Beth is the daughter of a strict and physically abusive minister. So, when she finds out she's pregnant with Jimmy's child and he's in Vietnam, she's in fear.

Eli Golden, the carpenter, is a widower with a spoiled retriever, Toby. Melanie Stone for various reasons is living with her grandma Mary Beth. Eli and Melanie meet when he stops to help her change a flat tire on her red Mustang.

I'm bouncing between a romance set in 1966 and one in present day. So far, I'm not confusing myself and I'm hoping that's a good sign that I won't be confusing my readers. The story is flowing quite fast. Thank goodness. Because I have two Scottish shifters who are a wee bit miffed with me for ignoring them, so they are.

Melanie and Mary Beth decide to go for haircuts and manicures. The older lady uses a cane to walk since a stroke and is practically housebound. Here's an unedited snippet.

The door to the beauty shop opened. All female heads swiveled toward the muscled man whose shoulders practically filled the doorway. The yellow t-shirt he wore with “Golden’s Home Improvements” printed in black was stretched tight over muscles made from hard work and not time spent in a gym. He glanced around and then slowly sauntered in.
“He’s my next customer,” one stylist breathed.
“Like hell,” another growled.
One customer fanned herself with a magazine. “I think I just popped an ovary.”
Ignoring all their remarks, his brown-eyed gaze locked on Melanie’s as he approached. Her heart rate kicked up a notch or two. Her stylist had stilled to watch as he hunkered in front of the beautician’s chair.
“I recognized your car out front.” He tapped her capri clad knee twice with one fingertip. “Did you take your flat tire to a repair center yet?”
A spark of anger flamed. After all, she wasn’t incompetent or stupid. “Who named you my father?” Yes, she sounded bitchy, but the man was a total stranger whether he’d helped her, or not. “And how did you just happen to spot my car?” Stalk women much?
“I was on my way to Home Depot for supplies. It’s two blocks away. Want me to pick you up a hammer so you can whack me on the head next time you see me? That’ll save you from your usual mulish greeting. I think they’re in aisle ten.” He flashed a smile that made her melt—just a tad.
Gram snorted before she leaned her head back and laughed like a fool. Melanie shot her a dirty look to which the older woman flashed her a thumbs up.
Yes, I dropped off my tire. No, I don’t need a hammer,” she replied through clenched jaws.
“Are you the bastard who beat her? The bruises may be fading, but everyone can still see them.” Melanie’s hairdresser waved her comb at Eli.
“No ma’am. I’d like to get my hands on the son of a bitch who did though. I’d teach him how to treat a woman. The only reason I brought up the topic of a hammer is every time I see this lady, she’s ready to rip my eyebrows off.” He flattened a palm over his large pecs. “Me. A nice guy like me. Can you imagine?”
The customer with the magazine leaned forward. “She must be a fool. Come sit by me.”
A dog barked frantically. “Is that Toby I hear raising hell?” Melanie wanted to get him out of there. God, he was so good looking. If she didn’t hang onto her resentment of men, she be vulnerable again.
He stood. “Yeah. The big cry baby. I had to get special permission last year to take him into Home Depot. He likes riding in the cart.” He winked at her. Is he flirting with me?
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  1. Vonnie, what a fun excerpt. I love the concept and look forward to reading THE GOLDEN CHARM. Sounds like the hero has a lot of that charm himself. :)

    1. Yes, he does. The title has a double meaning. His charm since his last name is Golden and the golden heart charm on the bracelet with "Angel" engraved on it.

  2. Great idea for a book! Based on the excerpt, I like the characters already.

    1. Thanks, Sandra. I was concerned with jumping from one time period to another so I sent my chapters to my daughter. "I'm hooked," she said. "Send me more." Well, I have to write it first.

  3. That's so neat that the idea finally got to be reality. You are describing one of the most exciting parts of being a writer and what readers seek in the writers they favor

    1. Rain, for the last couple years I've been told by my editor what to write. "We need a series about this. I want it set here and include this and that in the subject matter." It's lovely to be able to write what I want now that my contract is fulfilled.

  4. Love the concept and the excerpt, but you had me with just the description of the story! Made me think of a book I wrote about 15 years ago that never found a home. It had 2 romances of 2 different generations in it also. I keep thinking I'll pull that out and edit it and publish. Now you've encouraged me to do that.

    Finish it so we can read the whole thing!


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