It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Too busy writing to post. Which means– what, you think I’m not getting any writing done now? Never mind, here’s the fiction I’m working on, in chronological order of conception:
Title: Free Souls
Also Known As: Work in Revision (WIR)
Genre: Literary Romance Thriller (is there such a thing?)
Format: Novel, currently divided into three parts
Setting and Time Period: 20th century midwestern America; action as written so far spans the years 1970 to 1982
First Conceived: Circa 1983; first draft written, edited, and typed up
Idea Source: A bizarre encounter I had with a would-be client when I was working in a two-person architecture firm.
Premise: As an idealistic teenager, Sandy Beichten dedicated her life to serving God and her neighbor through doing great Architecture and making a marriage with a Christian man who’d share her ideals. Now, ten years later, she is working for Eric Baumann, the best young designer in her Midwestern city, and seems to be fulfilling the first part of her pledge. But Eric has little use for Christianity, and her hopeless love for him seems to be forcing her to choose between her heart and her vocation– until the plottings of a sinister stranger confront both Sandy and Eric with choices that are more chilling and ultimate still.
Themes: Work and vocation; love vs. infatuation; faithfulness vs. betrayal; family; focus vs. distraction; purity vs. corruption; order vs. anarchy; bigotry vs. tolerance/acceptance; defining standards and living up to them; defining which standards are most worth living and dying for
Motifs: Architecture; fine art; classical music; Shakespeare; vision; water; fire
Original Length: (71) 8½ x 11 typewritten pages, single-spaced, no paragraph spacings or chapter breaks; double-spaced between major scenes
Current Word Count: 91,185
Target Word Count: Who knows, but I have to pare it down
Last Worked On: 7/18/2014
Comments: I wrote Free Souls the 1983 novella as a gift to a fellow writer, in response to a novella she wrote for me. The three main characters were based on a would-be architectural client, my former boss, and myself. My writer friend’s feedback was enthusiastically positive, but even back then I was painfully aware that there was no way those characters could work out those plot solutions as written. I’m rewriting and expanding the original novella to deepen the characters, to render their actions more believable, and to develop themes and motifs implicit in the original. I hope this will make the story more compelling and more worth reading.
Title: Florrie (working title only)
Genre: Psychological Horror
Format: Long short story or novella; haven’t found out yet
Setting and Time Period: Midwestern United States; initial action takes place in 1967 or so, main action in the mid-1980s
First Conceived: Circa 1983
Idea Source: My writer friend’s day job as a newspaper reporter got me thinking of that milieu. Then the opening line of the story popped into my head, giving me the character and her situation fully formed.
Premise: Where is the dividing line between an author’s creatively basing her characters on people she knows and her using them to the point she sucks out their souls? Struggling newspaper reporter Chuck Randolph is not a fan of romance novels. But he reads everything produced by popular romance author Sarah Trent and obsessively follows her career. For Chuck knows Ms. Trent– and what’s worse for him, she believes she knows him, too.
Themes: Creative vampirism; infatuation; obsession; success and failure; self-delusion; self-destruction
Motifs: Writing and authorship; newspaper reporters; romance novelists; Dorian Gray in reverse
Current Word Count: 659 (in the file I can locate, though I could swear I’ve written a lot more)
Target Word Count: We’ll see
Last Worked On: 9/6/2012
Comments: This was going to be my next project after I “completed” Free Souls back in the 1980s. But I knew next to nothing about life in the typical newsroom and lacked the confidence to use one for my setting. Yes, I could have consulted my friend, but she was in California and I was in the Midwest and I was too busy practicing architecture to write letters and too poor to talk to her long distance. With the coming of the Internet a lot of my research problems are solved, and I intend to get back to this project once I have my two novels finished.
Title: Singing Lake Farm
Also Known As: Work in Progress (WIP)
Genre: Psychological/Supernatural Horror
Format: Novel in two parts
Setting and Time Period: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and eastern Ohio, 2009-2011
First Conceived: 2004
Idea Source: The visual simile that oozed into my mind when I was trying not to face the fact that the organization I’d pulled up stakes to come lead was rife with dark secrets from the past no one would admit to or discuss.
Premise: For 55-year-old Mary Ellen Matson, the old Henry property is the ideal place for her to fulfill her lifelong dream of developing a plant nursery and demonstration garden. Singing Lake Farm will be more than her livelihood, it will be a memorial to her late husband and son, and she is willing to invest everything she has to establish it. But once she does, she may find that the land hides something that was not in her plans.
Themes: Dream fulfilment; family conflict; family curses; the supernatural; cryptozoology; love and idolatry; appearances vs. reality; the hidden revealed; work and ambition; friendship; money; religious faith neglected
Motifs: Gardening; plans (mental and as drawn); dreams and nightmares; water and drowning; witchcraft; animals that hunt; snakes
Current Word Count: 49,668 (including sketches for later proposed chapters which I append to the typescript draft)
Target Word Count: 80,000 to 100,000
Last Worked On: 4/7/2014
Comments: Poor Mary Ellen. It won’t come out well for her.
Title: Thelma and Svetlana (working title only)
Genre: Family drama
Format: Novel, maybe, in three parts
Setting and Time Period: Rural Minnesota, 1930s, with flashbacks to earlier times
First Conceived: April 2009
Idea Source: This story emerged from a dialogue-writing exercise in a writing class I took in spring 2009.
Premise: Svetlana, passionate, elderly, Ukrainian, and Eastern Orthodox, has nothing in common with Thelma, her no-nonsense middle-aged Norwegian-American Lutheran daughter-in-law. Nothing, that is, but her son, Thelma’s husband Yuri. But Yuri is dead, and the two women must live together in Thelma’s house after Svetlana’s homestead goes under the auctioneer’s hammer. Can they heal the wounds of the past, and will the one thing that seems to divide them most be the factor that brings them together?
Themes: Family conflict; religious conflict; hopes suppressed and deferred; reconciliation; beauty vs. homeliness
Motifs: Housecleaning; religious holidays; cooking and preserving; farmwork; rural life
Current Word Count: 349
Target Word Count: We’ll see
Last Worked On: Some revisions made in 2011.
Comments: When I looked for it for this post, I couldn’t find the dialogue file anywhere on my computer. Fortunately I was able to get it back from one of my blogs, where I posted it in May 2009.
Wasn’t particularly thinking of developing this, but the scenario got into my head while I was refinishing my stairs back in 2011. I wish to gracious I’d made some idea sketches at the time. I conceive of the novel as a framed story, exploring Svetlana’s and Thelma’s backgrounds in turn to show how they got to where they are “now.” Once I’ve brought them up to date to the 1930s, I’ll work on how they are ultimately reconciled, so Svetlana can die in peace.