Turn and Face the Strange Ch-ch-changes

The times, they have changed; and I don’t mean just Daylight Savings (ugh-what a horror). February was a month of chaos and upheaval. Everything is upside down and inside out.

I am writing and posting this blog from the Frozen Wastes of Michigan (specifically, the Ann Arbor area), while James and Mickie are staying in the Warm Fields of Atlanta, Georgia. This move necessitates more than a bit of change in our writing habits and our ability to meet. However, I am happy to report that we did a test run of a group writing session via Skype and it was a success! So we are going to be able to (virtually) meet.

This month, as it’s my first in Michigan and I am in box hell, as you can see:

These are SOME of the unpacked boxes...and my tired feet in my favorite gray cat socks.

These are SOME of the unpacked boxes…and my tired feet in my favorite gray cat socks.

we are only going to try to meet once, maybe twice. As things smooth out (and I find my notebooks, pens, and other tools which are in various boxes), I’m hoping that we’ll get back to our weekly writing sessions (via Skype, of course), with one actual video conference each month to discuss progress, status, brainstorm, check in, catch up, scold or be scolded, all those things we need to do in order to have working drafts by October (group goal, as Mickie discussed in a prior post).

Also, since I am in box hell (did you see the picture I stuck in here? Aighhhh!), I didn’t really have time or computer or internet access to write much. Therefore, I am going to give you a short-short or vignette piece, set the year before the first Perfect Coven trilogy takes place, when Jasper is preparing to leave for GLU and Shelley is a senior in high school. This story is intended to give you a glimpse into their relationship.


Best Laid Plans: A Jasper & Shelley Vignette

Jasper Howison cased the guitar, then surveyed the rest of the room, gauging the status of the packing. His best friend, Shelley Tanzer, folded shirts and stacked them into the open trunk at the foot of the bed. His gold canary, Ette, perched on the bedpost, supervising them both, while Shelley’s familiar, a greyhound named Jesse, lounged on the floor beneath the window.

Shelley straightened, put both hands on the small of her back, and bent backward to stretch out the kinks. Jasper braced. Here it comes, he thought. She’s been much too quiet. He wasn’t sure if he meant Shelley or Ette.

He crossed his arms over his chest and waited.

Shelley walked to the bureau, opened the top drawer and threw pants and jeans onto the bed. Still silent, she returned to the bed and began to fold the clothing. Jasper sighed as quietly as he could and bent to dismantle his keyboard stand.

“I can’t believe this is happening!”

At the sound of Shelley’s voice, Jasper jumped and banged his head into the underside of the keyboard. He slumped to the floor, groaning.

Ette fluttered over and perched on the crossbar. She looked him over with one beady, black eye. “He’s not bleeding,” she reported to Shelley. Jesse seconded Ette’s diagnosis with a yip.

“Thanks for your concern,” Jasper retorted, inching from under the keyboard and rolling to his hands and knees. He stayed there for a moment, collecting himself, before standing to face his best friend. The tears in her eyes tore at his heart.

“It’s not fair!” she cried. “It’s a whole year! And I’m stuck here, in high school, by myself!”

“To be fair, you’d still be in high school by yourself even if I stayed,” Jasper said. “I am a year older than you.”

“Oh, don’t be reasonable.” Shelley threw herself backward onto the bed, dismantling all the folding she’d done. “The fact of the matter is that you’re leaving me. You’re going to have adventures that I’m not and you’re going to meet people that I don’t know and, and, and….” Her voice trailed away.

“Not that many adventures,” Ette said, voice acerbic. “He’ll go to class, study, and sit in his apartment playing his instruments.” Ette flipped her tail and snapped her beak. “And you know it,” she added, eyeing Shelley.

Shelley sat up. “Apartment? What apartment?”

Jasper lifted one shoulder and grimaced. “When we went to look at the campus, Father said the dormitories were too small and crowded for proper practice. We decided to rent an apartment off campus with enough room for all this,” he waved his arm at the instruments crowded into the bedroom, “and that would give me enough extra space to practice.”

He moved to the bed and sat down beside Shelley. Ette flew over and settled on her perch, while Jesse got up, wandered over, and laid his head on the edge of the bed. Shelley reached out to rub the dog’s ears, but didn’t acknowledge Jasper’s remark about the apartment.

Jasper nudged Shelley’s knee with his leg. “It has two bedrooms, Sea-Shell.”

She shrugged.

“Two bedrooms,” Jasper repeated. “And a huge living room. Small kitchen, though.” Jasper ignored Ette’s chortle when he mentioned the kitchen; he knew what she thought of his culinary abilities. He kept his focus on his best friend and continued, “Lots of green space, too. Nice walking areas.” He paused. Shelley didn’t stir, nor did she look at him. He added, “And two bathrooms.”

“Two bathrooms?” Shelley bounced up off the bed and whirled to face Jasper and Ette. Jesse, familiar with his witch’s exuberance, had already scrambled out of the way. Shelley’s eyes sparkled and her face lit up as her mood shifted, as changeable as the water that was her Element. She exclaimed, “This has possibilities!”

She began to pace and talk, hands and hair flying, planning next year, when she would be attending GLU and become Jasper’s roommate. Bemused, Jasper and the two familiars watched and listened. They let Shelley’s words roll over them, unstoppable as the tide. Neither Jasper nor Ette bothered to tell the excited girl that Jasper and his father had chosen the apartment with Shelley in mind.

James says: This change in location is really going to try our commitment to writing this series and doing it well. Getting together once a week was a tool on which we had come to rely, and now we aren’t going to have that. We can certainly do this, even with the distance, it’ll just take a bit more work and individual effort.

Mickie says: Once everything settles down, I think we’ll be able to move our stories forward at a brisk pace.   I think that the Skype meetings, which will essentially be a #1k1hr, are going to be more beneficial than our weekly meetings at Big Name Coffee Shoppe! That said, I’ll be switching offices at work, and I’ll be right up the road from James in a couple of weeks. When I know my schedule, we will probably meet in person and include Sid via Skype or text. Btw, at this point, I think I would prefer the frozen wastes to the humid, muggy pollen infested warm fields.

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