False Start Snips, Mistletoe in Manhattan, and Defending Bands You Like

Today's post is brought to you by the letters P and J.

By which I mean, Pearl Jam.

Yes, if this post seems short, it's because blogging time was interrupted by emphasising-how-great-Pearl-Jam-are time, as I came face to face with a reluctant fan.

Also, in keeping with my last post, I forgot to link to Claire Gregory's other blog, The Road to War and Back.

I distracted myself from NaNo the other day by reading Talli Roland's latest, Mistletoe in Manhattan:

"As Little Missington's first Christmas baby in fifty years and the daughter of Christmas When You Like It party-planners, Holly West has been surrounded by the holiday spirit since birth. Trouble is, she's not exactly filled with festive cheer. In fact, Holly can't wait to ditch the tinsel and Santa suits for champagne and celebs, and become a party-planner to the stars.
When British TV star Dean Layton hires her parents' company to throw his holiday bash in Manhattan, Holly jumps at the chance to help, confident she can handle a little Christmas in exchange for access to Dean's exclusive world.
But New York and Dean's over-the-top demands are more than Holly bargained for. Can Holly deck the halls and make it a party to be proud of, or will this Christmas be one she'll never forget . . . even if she wants to?"
Such a sweet story! There's a fine line between sweetness and so sugary your teeth hurt, and Talli's story definitely falls on the not cloying side. I read this novella in one sitting, unable to tear myself away from Holly's journey, wondering what choices she'd make and rooting for her to find love. I kept smiling to myself so many times at Holly's turns of phrase. Hope we get to see her in a sequel! And Alex, oh yes... Talli, if you come by, could you let us know who you might cast for Alex if he was ever portrayed on screen? Now there's a perfect guy.

I found out about False Starts Friday from Sara: Post the beginning snip of a piece of writing that didn't go anywhere.

I've got quite a few of these! Actually, the one I'm about to share is a story I still hope to return to someday, as it's intended for Scholastic's Dear Canada series, an awesome collection of stories from Canada's history, all told in the form of diary entries, each written by a different author.

In this story, set in the 1930s, main character Willa runs off to New York City to meet a famous singer. Instead, she meets his son, Sam, and they are instantly attracted to one another. This scene shows their second rendezvous.
Willa waited under the awning of the front door. She hadn't been able to eat for excitement, and felt rather nauseated, from hunger and nervousness. She tapped a foot on the marble step, acting preoccupied, pretending that she belonged there and trying to ignore the throwing-up sensation in her stomach.
The building didn't look at all like what she'd imagined a recording studio to be – no celebrities streaming in and out, calling each other by stage names, no sounds of tuning instruments coming from the upper floor windows.
Instead, from what she could see through the plate glass window, the lobby was empty, save for a woman dressed much the same as she was, in a grey two-piece, with pinned hair, and seated behind a typewriter on a massive mahogany desk. A bank of elevators stood silent behind her. Willa waited to see if they opened and Sam came out, but for five minutes, during which she must have checked her watch and peered up and down the street at least fifty times, no one came in or went out.
Finally, having caught the receptionist's eye on her again, Willa shuffled through the revolving door and clattered across the marble floor, her high-heeled steps echoing back at her from the walls. She did have a reason to be here; why should she feel nervous?
The woman at the desk held her fingers poised in the air over the typewriter, ready to start tapping away at any moment, and glared at Willa.
Willa pulled herself up straight, resisting the urge to snatch her hat off and twist it in her fingers. "Hello. I'm here to meet – see – Mr. Springsteen."
"Not gonna work, honey. Think you're the first? We get about ten of you a day." The woman's words were chatty but her tone was dry as sand.
"No, I meant Mr. Sam Springsteen; not –"
"Yeah, I've heard that one, too. Come on, honey, don't waste my time, okay?" And she really did lower her hands and start pounding the keys, ignoring Willa completely.
At that moment, a loud voice sang from down the corridor, "that's good, baby. Oh yeah. Oh-h-h-h yeah" and then a door slammed.
The thought flashed through Willa's mind, "I just want to go home," but she didn't, not really. Wasn't this part of what she had run to New York City for? To be with musicians and catch a glimpse of their lifestyle?
The receptionist stopped tapping and glared again when she saw that Willa had made no move to leave. A great clanking came from the metal grilles of the elevator directly behind her, and Sam stepped through the doors.
"Ah, you found our offices?" he called to Willa over the woman's head. "Let's go, I'll give you a tour." He beamed at her, coming around the desk.
Willa felt generous now that she had been vindicated before the receptionist. She cast her friendliest smile at the stunned woman and gleefully slipped her arm through Sam's proffered elbow.
"May we go through there first?" She pointed at the corridor down which the lewd lyrics had floated.
Sam laughed. "Not now. Van Zandt's very picky about his surroundings; he doesn't appreciate strangers coming upon him while he's recording."
In the end, she saw only the cafeteria on the first floor. As Sam towed her back along the corridor, pointing out the awards along the walls, a boy Friday came running toward them. He looked frightened yet thrilled to be approaching Sam.
"Mr. Springsteen, sir! There's a telegram for you at the front desk!"
Willa wondered if the boy's fear was at speaking to a superior or what the telegram might say.
"Stay here," Sam told them both, and skidded off to the lobby.
"But Sam –"
"Don't move!" he called back, not turning.
She shared a look of surprise with the boy at Sam's curt tone. The kid clapped a hand over his mouth, remembering his place, and nodded at her before scurrying away in the opposite direction.
Willa certainly didn't feel like being stuck in the corridor all by herself, with only an irascible singer in a room nearby, and hurried to the lobby after Sam.
"Are you sure you can handle it?" the receptionist was asking in a low voice.
"Shut up! You want somebody to hear us?" Sam hissed.
Willa's heels echoed again as she stepped onto the marble flooring, and Sam and the woman lifted their heads as one. At least I don't feel like throwing up anymore, she thought.
Now she was angry.
As you can see, a lot of the names were place-fillers (among other things that need fixing. Sigh.).

If NaNo goes on the way it does, I might be returning to this story sooner than I expected; I'm worried that Captive of the Sea is fast turning into a novella and might be complete before I reach 50,000 words.

That said, I should get on with my other mini-ROW80 goals; I haven't sent a query in weeks.

Hope everyone's writing - whether you're attempting NaNo or not - is going smoothly!

Here's one of the songs I was attempting to sway my friend with:


Which bands or books have you defended lately?


Angela Brown said…
I'm going to take a wild guess, just a conjecture here, that you are a Pearl Jam fan :-)

I haven't done much in the way of defending music s I've not had any conversations about it in a while. However, I can certainly tell that my taste in music as evolved and changed over the years.

Enjoyed the snippet you shared. Kept my attention all the way through.

I'm glad you enjoyed Talli's novella. I've got to move that one up my reading list :-)
Talli Roland said…
Oh, thanks so much, Deniz! So pleased you enjoyed it! Hmm, Alex. Someone dark and smouldering but also quite earnest... eep! Maybe that French guy from L'Auberge Espagnole? But with an American accent?
S.P. Bowers said…
It's so different to see you writing about the 1930s.
It sounds like an interesting story, and it made me wonder what Sam was hiding! Hmmm...
I have to defend songs all the time, because most people don't like my taste in music. I've liked pop music ever since I was a teenager, and I don't see myself not liking it anytime soon. :)
Anonymous said…
1930's? Sounds interesting. Now get back to NaNoing! ;o)
That's an interesting time period! I'm actually reading a book set in the 1930s right now.

Haven't done a lot of defending lately, though I did recently try to explain to someone how Asimov's Foundation series wasn't like Star Wars.
Been years since I heard Pearl Jam.
Talli is just an awesome writer!
Denise Covey said…
Hi Deniz. Popped in to see how your NaNo was going and you seem to be chugging along fine. Halfway now! I'm a bit under but not worried. I'll catch up. I also bought Mistletoe in Manhattan and read the first chapter and love it. Can't wait to finish it.
Hi Deniz .. can't say I'm a P & J fan ... but I am listening!!!

Talli's book - yup on my to buy list ... and love the review - just what I need right now ... well December I shall enjoy too.

Cheers - good luck with finishing NaNo .. Hilary
Hi Deniz!

Talli's novella sound such a lovely story. I need to get this as I keep forgetting.

Good luck with your Nano!

Deniz Bevan said…
Hope you like the novella, too, Angela!

Had to look him up, Talli. Love the way his imdb page starts by calling him an "appealing actor" - I can't disagree!

It feels very strange, Sara. Wait till I try 1913!

Hee hee, did you see Amanda Palmer's round up of pop songs live at NME studios, Neurotic?

Aye aye, Captain Joshua!

Eek! That sounds like a good thing to be defending, Eagle.

I haven't listened to them in a while either, Alex, but it was fun to remember.

I was by yours, Denise, but felt badly that I can't participate in the Holiday blogfest - seems like such an amazing idea.

Hope you enjoy the novella, Hilary and Nas!
Jemi Fraser said…
Sounds like your Nano is going well - sometimes those stories just don't want to be the length you want them to be!! Good luck with it!
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks Jemi! Maybe I could write two novellas during NaNo...
Oh, how nice to see Talli featured her. She's one prolific writer. I've read a few of her books.

You set the scene really well here. I'm impressed that you write in such varying times and places.

Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks so much, Theresa!
nutschell said…
i haven't had me some pearl jam in awhile:) Thanks for sharing the snippet! i'll have to check out Talli's book.
Deniz Bevan said…
Hope you like the book, nutschell!

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