Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A "Which-Way" Book of Your Own Making

It's the fifth Wednesday of the month. Time to check out an excerpt from my current WIP. I decided to try something a little different today. Remember those "which way" books popular in the 80's? Well, pay close attention to today's excerpt. At the end I'm going to ask you which way the story should go. It's your chance to choose what happens next! Let's go!

            (Excerpt from Courtesy Turn by Rebecca Waters)

             “Don’t forget, Mom, I need your statements for the taxes. They should have been here by now.” Ethan crumbled a piece of cornbread in his bowl of sixteen-bean soup.
            “Oh, uh…I have them. Actually, I was thinking about trying to do my own taxes this year.”
            “Why would you want to do that?”
            “I just think it’s time I took responsibility for some things.”
            Ethan rested his spoon in the bowl. “It’s complicated, Mom. That’s why Dad asked me to do it in the first place.”
            “He always did our taxes before he got sick.”
            “Dad did everything by hand. I use a computer program.”
            “And I have a new computer. You said the program was easy. A matter of filling in the blanks you said.” Why is he making this so difficult?
            “You’re not doing your taxes and that’s final.”
            “I am not a child!” Heat crept up Dottie’s neck. She clenched her jaw.
            Ethan stood. He threw his napkin on the table. “Fine!” he shouted back. “Then don't act like one.” He left the room, grabbed his jacket and walked out the door.
            Dottie sat at the table, her face in her hands. The tears pouring out like a watering can. A knot formed in her throat. “What is going on, God? Please help me. And help Ethan.”     
The dishes were washed and put away. The leftover soup stored in two large plastic containers. Searching for the lids had taken a good ten minutes. Twice Dottie picked up the phone. Twice she laid it down again. Fighting with her adult son. No, that couldn’t be good. When the phone finally broke the silence, the shrill tone made Dottie jump. She raced to the kitchen where her house phone rested on the counter away from its cradle.
“Hi Dottie!” Virginia.
“Oh, hello.”
“You sound like you were expecting it to be someone else. You okay?”
“I’m fine. A little tired I guess.”
“You don’t sound like yourself.”
“I, uh, well I sort of had a little run in with someone today and I’m trying to figure out what to do about it.” Silence stretched on the other end of the line. “Virginia, are you there?”
“Yes. I didn’t know if you were asking for advice or, you know, venting. Wouldn’t want to overstep my ground as they say.”
“I know. I’m not sure I want advice. It just makes you feel bad when you have any sort of disagreement, you know?”
“I know. I got upset with my sister the other day on the phone. Of course I don’t think she realized that what she said was hurtful. Maybe it shouldn’t have bothered me but it did. Anyway, you don’t need to say anything. I’ll pray for God to give you a discerning and forgiving heart. You ‘ll figure it out.”

“Thanks.” A discerning heart?  How about giving me a son who treats me like an adult? Music sounded from the other room. “Sorry, Virginia, I need to go. My cell phone’s ringing.”

Now it's your turn. How is Dottie feeling? Why? Are her feelings justified? And Ethan. What about him? Why do you think he feels the way he feels? And here's the big question: What do you think will happen next? Who do you think is calling Dottie on her cell? Which way should this story go?


  1. Dottie is obviously upset/confused and not understanding why Ethan is reacting this way. Of course, I need more story to answer your questions :) how long since dad has been gone? is Ethan still angry about his passing? had Ethan and his mom had a close loving relationship prior? Since dad asked Ethan to do the taxes, is he doing it for him more than for her? Sorry, did not mean to answer your questions with questions... but now you have me so eager to read more!.... oh, and, it would be too obvious if it were Ethan on the cell.... must be his wife (does he have one?) worried that Ethan and his mom are "at odds" and wanting to referee?....

    1. Answering questions with questions is great! And I was intentional in not giving away too much. You have great insights here. Thanks, Nancy for offering some wonderful direction!


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