Here we are this chilly (we just had our first frost! Which is weird, because it’s mid-November … global warming? 😄
Yeah, right.) evening. I’m writing my post. At least, I was. You’re reading my post. Hopefully. Wait … yeah, you’ve got to be reading my post. Or else you wouldn’t be able to know what I’m saying here. I’d better stop now. You see, recently I’ve been having a very NaNoish problem.
Yeah, tragic, isn’t it? It happens to quite a few writers, though, this time of the year. We run through the streets rioting
(and you thought they were protesting Trump? Nooooo … no one could be that stupid! What do you think we are? Crazy?) and screaming, “WHAT ARE WORDS?!?!”
Still, I’ve managed to keep up with my goals and exceed them a bit, too. I’m currently at 32,329 words. I’ve only written two paragraphs today (mostly because I removed a paragraph and wanted to replace the words I’d deleted), but I intend to write 2,000 more words after I publish this post.
Here’s what my stats look like right now:
As you can see, I haven’t even begun to write today … so yep. The stats will change significantly later on this evening, though. 😉
At this rate, I’ll make 60,000 words, but I don’t expect to. After all, I’ll be at the beach from next Wednesday until Friday or Saturday (yeah … not sure how I feel about that … I mean, we’ve never had Thanksgiving away from home before …), and I don’t know how much I’ll be able to write then. Plus I’ll be playing clarinet with a couple members of our band for the Salvation Army and having a party afterwards this Saturday, so I could definitely get behind (though hopefully the extra words I’ve got now will make up for it).
Anyway, today I’m going to talk a little about Peter Strauss.
For various reasons, I need y’all to like Peter, mostly because otherwise I may be murdered by my fans.
Not that I’m saying that I have fans; just that if I did, I could be murdered by them. *manages to remain humble after saying something kind of conceited … sorta* 😉 I need everyone who reads this book to like Peter. However, making a character likable … it’s kind of hard to pin down an exact way to do that.
So I went to my best friend
(though don’t tell Bailey) Google for answers.
I got varied results. Here are some of the blog posts I read (the ones that were actually helpful, anyway … I read maybe ten that were a waste of time …):
(That was it … not a lot to draw on … *considers writing a post about this myself*)
Based on these blog posts, I’m doing what I can to improve Peter, who was starting to feel a bit boring.
Now, an excerpt.
~ At the Ashfields’ New Years Eve Ball ~
The Ashfield’s home was all aglow with lights. The line of carriages slowly rolled past the front entrance, emitting women in ridiculously extravagant dresses and men in smartly tailored suits.
When the Knight’s personal carriage stopped in front, Alice accepted the hand down from a stoic footman and followed her parents slowly up the steps and through the door.
Just inside, the Ashfields greeted their guests. There was Mr. Jeremy Ashfield, a tall, dark-haired man with a delicate nose and mouth that contrasted pleasantly with his more manly face. His wife, Mrs. Ashfield, was short and plump, not exactly beautiful, but easy on the eyes. Their son, Gibson Ashfield, was the main attraction, and just ahead of her Alice could see a pretty girl a few years her elder holding up the line for an extra moment talking to the sole heir of the Ashfield estate.
Gibson was tall, dark, and handsome. He, like his father, had light hazel eyes, deep brown hair, and dusky skin, smooth skin that came naturally instead of from being out in the sun. But that wasn’t really what caused Alice to look twice. It was the familiarity. Gibson reminded her of someone.
In all likelihood you’ve seen him before. You’ve certainly seen his mother before; you called on her last week. That must be it. Something about him bears a strong resemblance to his mother, just as I remind people of my mother without bearing a direct resemblance to her, and part of me recognizes it.
This problem settled, Alice said a few polite words to Mr. and Mrs. Ashfield, barely nodded to Gibson, and followed his parents into the ballroom.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Alice was introduced to perhaps three dozen people whose names she didn’t remember thirty seconds afterwards before the dancing began and Alice became the partner of a young man – Daniel being his Christian name, she thought, but at least she did remember his last name, which was Oakley.
His name didn’t stick long after he left returned her to her parents, and she was soon dancing with another man with Daniel – or David or Donald – Oakley a distant memory.
The dances and the young men faded together in Alice’s mind, none of them standing out to her. She admired some, was disgusted by others, and had no opinion whatsoever about the remaining, and, besides, none of these feelings lingered long enough for her to care about.
One time Alice accept an offer of refreshments made by a young man whose name has since been lost in the mists of time. She stood where he left her at the edge of the ballroom floor and watched him procure two glasses of punch and triumphantly start back towards Alice.
He was hallways to her when, out of a side door which led to the library, came Gibson Ashfield The two inevitably ran into each other, and pink punch spilled down the front of Alice’s partner’s white waistcoat.
Alice’s partner, hardly able to refrain from cursing, pulled out a handkerchief and began dabbing at his front fiercely. Alice walked over to them, barely stopping her smiles. A quick glance at the furiously apologizing Gibson confirmed Alice’s suspicions; his lips were twitching with suppressed mirth.
“Miss Knight,” said Alice’s partner apologetically when he saw her, “I’m terribly sorry, but I must leave you to clean up.”
“Of course, that’s perfectly fine. I’ll -”
“Dance with me,” Gibson interposed. “When a man barrels down a woman’s dance partner, he should at least offer to take his place, don’t you think?”
“It … it would be an honor,” Alice replied, taken aback.
“No, the honor is all mine,” Gibson assured her, extending his arm and leading her onto the dance floor. The music began as they turned to face each other and Alice, still a little speechless, began to dance.
She danced well, and, soon finding that Gibson matched her skill, they glided across the floor easily, making it easy for them to talk.
After a few pleasantries, conversation lagged. A quick glance around the room for subject matter, however, was all Alice needed before her mind was overflowing with ideas.
“Do you know everyone here?” she asked.
“Yes. By name only, some of them, though.”
Who is that lady in the black gown … she’s blonde and, oh, thirty.”
Gibson glanced quickly over his shoulder. “Mrs. Wimble.”
“Ah. Is the gentleman with her Mr. Whimper, or are the gowns she wears widows weeds.”
“Observant, aren’t you? But, then, women notice dresses, don’t they?” he teased. “But, yes, her husband passed away over three years ago.”
“Oh, dear. Well, she has recovered.”
“You know her?” Gibson asked.
“No, but look at her. She stands close that gentlemen and talks to him earnestly, doesn’t she? And now she’s laughing.”
Gibson smiled. “I’m not surprised. Her husband was almost thirty years her senior.”
Alice nodded. “I can surmise that from the desperation of her flirting,” she said with a mischievous grin.
“Well, the poor woman doesn’t even have a child to keep her company. All she has is a great deal of money,” Gibson commented. “She can afford to lose her widow’s solemnity every once in a while. After all, it’s been three years.”
“Probably, and even so, it doesn’t hurt anything. It’s none of my business,” she added quickly, becoming a bit embarrassed.
“If people will flaunt their personal affairs so you can clearly see them, so that it’s almost impossible to turn your head because no matter where you turn it you see what they are up to, it becomes your business.”
“That’s a nice way of seeing things. I tend to be overly observant … I can’t help but understand what people are about. My mother told me a few years ago that if I learn some sordid secret about anyone she knows, she’d rather not hear it.”
“Oh, but I’d rather hear it!” Gibson exclaimed, smiling.
“Now, it isn’t nice to slander people. It talks about it in the Bible, even.”
“But they slander themselves!”
“But that’s none of our concern.”
“We’re not involving ourselves; we’re simply learning from everyone else’s mistakes.”
“That’s … an interesting way of seeing things.”
“Yes, but an effective one, isn’t it? It helps us keep away a lot of the guilt that would manifest itself otherwise.”
“But guilt points out sin, doesn’t it?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t talk of sin at a ball,” Gibson teased. “Try a lighter subject.”
“How about wrong-doing?”
“That’s a little better.”
“Not the right thing?”
“That gives it a pleasant not-too-stern air, yes. We’ll go with that. So, guilt points out not-the-right-things. But we don’t want our not-the-right-things pointed out, now do we? Nobody does. Still, isn’t it best for us to have our not-the-right-things pointed out? As we are doing by gossiping about people we have no right to gossip about?”
Alice shook her head in amusement. “I give in. Who do you want to talk about?”
“Miss Alice Knight,” Gibson said playfully. “I’d love to talk about her.”
“I can tell you anything you want to know about her. I know her as well as I do myself.”
“Very well.” Gibson slowed his dancing slightly. “Does she enjoy dancing?”
“Very much. It’s one of her keenest delights.”
“Does she enjoy dancing with me?”
“That, she hasn’t confided in me, I’m afraid.”
“Oh, dear. Well, from your observations, then?”
“She does. She enjoys your company and your conversation. It’s not quite as dull as that of every other man she’s danced with tonight.”
“Not quite! So you hint that it is a little dull, do you?”
“Perhaps,” Alice said.
“Is there anything I could do to increase her enjoyment?”
“Perhaps talk about someone other than herself. She’s not a very interesting person, and she’s sure everyone else in this room is.”
“I disagree, but we can talk about someone else if you want,” Gibson replied, glancing around the room for a subject. “Your parents.”
“My parents are as dull as myself.”
“Then they are very interesting people, indeed! Tell me about them.”
“My father is extraverted; my mother is not. That’s really all you need to know about them.”
“Yes. Or at least that’s the popular opinion. Most people, after hearing that someone is extraverted or introverted, immediately make certain assumptions about them. That and their gender.”
“For instance, an extraverted male is the perfect gentleman. An introverted male is antisocial and hard to get along with; a grouchy old man. An extraverted female is giggly and bubbly, the society flirt. An introverted female is sweet and shy, but no-doubt with hidden depths.”
“That sounds correct. Which category do you fall into?”
“Neither of the female ones, though people often presume that I must be sweet and shy as I rarely giggle. I’m extraverted, though; I can’t stand to be alone, and I love people. I just happen to also be very serious. And you?”
“I fall into none of the categories, either,” Gibson said tragically. “I’m extraverted, but I’m not a very fine gentleman.”
“Yes, really. I have an alarming tendency to gossip. I gamble, too, sometimes. I lost nearly an entire shilling last night on a card game!”
“So you’re a good gambler?”
“No, a bad one. I just know that and don’t gamble more than a few coins,” Gibson replied.
“That’s wise of you.”
“Not wise; self-preserving.”
“Whatever you want to call it.”
“I want to call it not losing my fortune.”
“Then I will, too. Are there any other secret vices I should know about?”
“It depends on what you call a vice.”
“Anything that could be considered improper.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s a simple question. Whose opinion upon what is proper are we relying on? Because if it’s a Puritan, I’ll tell you I dance, I read secular works of fiction, sometimes on the Sabbath, and I rarely attend church.”
Alice was about to laugh, but ‘rarely attend church’ bothered her, so she remained serious. “That’s too bad. Perhaps I’ll have to reform you.”
“Many before have tried, including my mother, and none have succeeded. I still dance. I am right now, in fact.”
“No … about not going to church. You should, Mr. Ashfield.”
“Now, Miss Knight, don’t preach at me. I thought we were going to have some fun.”
“I’m sorry; I really do think you should go to church, though.”
“It’s boring, and I’m always tired. I’m afraid I’ll fall asleep. It would be embarrassing.”
“If you were five, that would be a logical excuse, but you’re not.”
“Can we talk about something else?”
“Of course; I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize; you spoke what you felt. I don’t mind that. Other people would, though, so watch yourself.”
“I will,” Alice replied as the dance ended. “I always do.”
“We go to a Baptist church now … have been for twenty years. We fit in well, although my aunt insists upon calling them the ‘Hallelujahs.’ I think they worship too cheerfully for her, with too little ceremony. But worshipping God isn’t about the ceremony, the outward grandeur. It’s about what’s in your heart, and maybe that’s pretty ‘Hallelujah,’ but what do I care? Perhaps I am Baptist.” ~Peter Strauss, At Her Fingertips (note: excerpt may change by final draft)
Thoughts on both the excerpt and the quote?
Before, I push the ‘publish’ button, a few announcements:
After November, I will be writing some short stories and posting them on Reveries. I’ve yet to decide which one to give my attention first, though. If you’d like to have some input on that, go to my short stories page and comment the title of the one you like best … and it’d be nice if I knew why, too. *hint, hint* 😉
Also, I’d love to hear in the comments below (or on the short story page) what you think of the covers. Honest opinions are welcome.
That’s right! This is the new official button for Reveries! It’s not very decorative, I know, but I was going for simplistic. If you’re a blog-button-collector, a share would be much-appreciated. Thoughts would be appreciate as well. 🙂
Thanks for reading and God bless,