So what's the next project? Frankly, I'm not sure. I'm trying something a little different this time, seeing if I can find a way to be more productive. You see, a lot of my writing is done somewhere besides the keyboard. At least, that's how it works when things are going well. I think things through or come up with a snippet of dialog and a goal for the conversation, and then I start writing it. If I have to do that at the keyboard, it starts to feel like pulling teeth. Working away from the keyboard seems to allow things to bubble up from my subconscious better, and I've learned my subconscious is where my muse resides. It can be a slow process sometimes. So that's why I'm working on two projects. I'm hoping that while I'm working on one story, ideas for the other will be percolating down below and that will keep my momentum going. Sooner or later (probably later), I expect one of the stories will take off and become The One. Until them, I'm in the Fun-and-Games portion of writing where I'm less concerned about how to resolve the story than I am with just playing with scenes. This is the part of writing I love.
So which stories are on my plate?
Both of them are McKnight stories. White Knight is Ezra's story. He's the McKnight sibling who lives in New York City and works at his Aunt Esther's modeling agency. Hard to imagine one of the McKnight boys living in NYC, isn't it? There's a really fun scene where he gets sucker into a charity bachelor auction. Yup. Catnip for the ladies.
I don't usually share first drafts with anyone, but I wrote this yesterday (which means it's very rough-draft.) It's a scene from after the bachelor auction. Ezra is at a friend's house for their monthly poker party.
“You’re late,” Keith said when he opened the door. “We been waiting on you.”
“I got hung up running an errand for Esther,” Ezra said.
“Come on back. We’re in the kitchen.”
He couldn’t be too late then if they were still beering-up. Julian “Jules” Cohen, Leon Sutton, and Reginald “Heck” Heckly—all regulars—were all strategically clustered around the island in the center of the kitchen where small bowls of mixed nuts, chips, and olives sat next to a silver platter that held alternating rows of sliced salami and cheese and Ritz crackers. Half the tray was already empty and Heck’s shirt was dusted with cracker crumbs.
“Wanna beer?” Keith asked, his head in the fridge.
Silly question. “Sure,” Ezra said. “What’s the flavor of the month?”
“Harp.” Keith handed him a longneck.
“Great,” Ezra said. Keith was a premium beer connoisseur. The last time he’d hosted the poker party, they’d all been drinking Löwenbräu. Ezra liked the Irish beers better. Not that he’d admit any of them were better than a Lone Star. But they didn’t share his bias; Lone Star didn’t taste like home for any of them.
“Where’s ZZ? Out with the girls?”
“No, she’s at the hospital. She said—and I quote—‘Working the ER on a full-moon Friday night is better than listening to you and your yahoo friends belching and telling dirty stories.’”
“Wow. I didn’t realize she knew us so well,” Leon said with a grin.
“I don’t belch,” Jules said. “It’s unladylike.” He followed the statement with a loud burp that cracked Leon up. Jules pressed his fingertips to his lips and said, “Excuse me,” in an exaggerated fussy tone. Leon laughed even harder.
Ezra sometimes wondered about the two of them. Like so many men who worked in fashion, Jules was apologetically gay. He flaunted an effeminate manner that he made Jack from the TV show Will and Grace look butch.
Leon was Jules antithesis. A big, black man with massive shoulders and biceps, he looked like the poster boy for construction work. He had, in fact, walked steel girders for ten years before deciding to specialize in demolition because he liked making things “go boom!”
The first time they’d met, Jules had dropped his keys and asked Leon to “be a dear and pick them up for me.” Leon had scowled before bending over slowly to retrieve the keys, but before straightening, he’d wiggled his butt which had sent everyone there into hysterics. It had been the beginning of a close but sometimes bizarre friendship.
One that didn’t amuse Jules boyfriend Peter.
“Everyone ready now?” Heck asked.
“Hold up there a minute, Pigpen.” Keith grabbed a handheld vacuum from the broom closet. “ZZ will kill me if you leave a trail crumbs through the house.” The vacuum came to life and Keith ran it down the front of Heck’s shirt. When he was done, he slapped Heck’s cheek lightly. “Now you’re good to go.”
“Aw,” Leon said with mock admiration. “You’re going to make a wonderful mother someday.”
“You wanna change my diaper, too?” Heck asked.
“I told you to go before you came over,” Keith said.
“Oh, man. He really does sound like someone’s mama,” Leon said.
“Y’all are gonna need a mama,” Ezra said, giving his Texas twang free rein. “Coz I’m gonna take all your money and send you home cryin’ like a redheaded stepchild.”
“Whoa,” Keith said. “That’s big talk for someone who lost his ass last time.”
“I didn’t lose my ass. I gave y’all early Christmas presents.”
“And you’re gonna give us another one tonight,” Leon said.
“When y'all are done trash talking, maybe we could move to the poker table,” Jules said. “Because Daddy needs to buy his sweetie something pretty for his birthday, and I’m counting on you guys so I can make it something nice.”
And then there's Knight Vision. That's what I've been working on today. You may remember my hero Gideon from A Dark & Stormy Knight. He's the brother with a touch of the second sight. He's also a farrier, so he spends a good part of his weeks traveling around. He's a bit more reticent than his brothers, but in his own way, he has a wicked sense of humor.
It's really more of a snippet. Keep in mind, it's severely stripped down, which means it's nearly all dialog. Gideon is shoeing a horse at the horse rescue where his sister Daisy volunteers when she stops by to chat with him about a woman (Skyler) who owns a horse barn.
Daisy plopped down onto a bale of hay. “Skyler seems nice,” she said a little too casually.
“Yup,” Gideon said as he aligned the iron shoe on the horse’s hoof.
“Her sister too.”
Daisy pulled a straw from the bale of hay and started chewing on one end. “You courtin’ her?”
“Now what makes you think that?”
“Well, you don’t offer to paint all your customers’ houses. Seemed like you’re kinda goin’ that extra mile for her.”
“She needed help.”
Daisy grunted softly. That was one of the things Gideon liked most about her. She could be girly sometimes, but mostly, she was as down to earth as any of his brothers.
“Well, I think you’d make a handsome couple. And she likes horses, so she’d fit in good with the family.”
“Yup, she would.”
She breathed out loudly through her nose. An exasperated sound. Gideon kept his head bent to hide his smile. Daisy was the most direct of his siblings. She didn’t have the patience to beat around the bush for long. Any second now, she’d change tactics. Three . . . Two . . . One . . .
“Gideon, are you listening to me?”
He wiped the smile off his face before he looked up. “Sure am. Skyler’s nice. So’s her sister. She likes horses.”
“Then why aren’t you courting her?”
“Since when are you so concerned about my love life?”
“Coulda fooled me.”
“It’s only . . . It seems to me someone needs to take an interest because you sure don’t seem to be.”
“Don’t seem to be what?”
She made a noise that seemed to come from deep in her chest. It sounded like she was hacking up a lugee. “Taking an interest in your love life.”
“Trust me. I take an interest.”
“Not so’s anyone would notice. I’ll bet Skyler doesn’t even know you like her.”
“Did I say I liked her in a love life sort of way?”
“Ha! You can deny it all you want, but you ain’t foolin’ nobody.”
“Didn’t you just say I was being so obscure no one could tell?”
So that's what the first draft of my scenes looks like. Not that it will make one iota's worth of difference (because it's really up to my muse), but which one appeals most to you?
And what do your first drafts look like?