May and June have been all kinds of crazy, but I did finish editing my library story and sent it off to a few writing friends for feedback. It was daunting to let it go so fast after editing, but I knew I had to eventually. Might as well get it over with, right?
I definitely saw an improvement between my first draft and editing. I know it’s far from perfect, but I’m so excited about Arthur and his bookish adventure. I’ve never truly edited something before, so it’s been a learning experience. But now I know it’s possible and I can do it again and again.
In the meantime, I’ve taken a sort of break from heavy writing because editing kicked my butt. I am participating in GoTeen Writers’ 100 for 100 Challenge, though. Basically, for 100 days, I am attempting to write at least 100 words towards a single story.
The story I’m working on is the Airplane Novel, about a girl who dreams of flying airplanes even though in her world it’s considered dangerous and illegal for women. It’s going fairly well. I’ve written more than the necessary 100 words, but some days are better than others. The first few weeks of the challenge were easy-peasy as I had ideas and momentum. The motivation has waned a bit, and there are days where I struggle to get the 100 in. But that happens and I’m finding I may not be someone who can write every day and be productive. (At least right now while also working a full-time job.)
I’m sticking with it, though, and just using this time to explore the story and characters. I’m just trying to get the story down because I know I’ll have to go back and do tons of research. But like I learned, editing is possible and that’s when the ideas become a story.
Since I’ve been writing a lot, I wanted to share a few snippets from the story as well. Enjoy! 🙂
When Avis Hart was eight years old, she said goodbye to her parents as they boarded the observation gondola of the Eastern United States’ newly crafted zeppelin tethered to the Empire State Building. The platform swelled and gasped with people waving to to those aboard, but Avis wasn’t looking at them or her parents’ retreating figures. She looked down at the busy New York City streets below. Automobiles the size of ants zigzagged through the streets and dots of people hurried along the sidewalks.
“Bye, bye, Avis!” Her mother called, lifting a white gloved hand in the air. “Bye, bye, Jules!”
“Have a safe trip!” Jules, Avis’ older brother, hollered back. He bumped her elbow, and Avis glanced up at the black and silver airship just in time to watch the hull burst into flames.
A choked scream swaddled Avis as heat blasted across her cheeks, sending tendrils of her blond hair flinging through the air. The crowd of spectators crowded away from the blaze, watching as loved ones and business partners, strangers and friends were consumed by fire and smoke.
But Avis did not move. She could not pry her fingers from the metal railing, even as the hysterical mass behind her roared in response to the billowing gray smoke that smothered the skyline.
Jules grabbed the sleeve of Avis’s velvet coat, a cry gurgling in his throat, and pulled her into the crowd. Bodies jostled one another, tripping and trampling to be away from the danger streaking New York’s skies. Avis fell backward, elbows and feet hitting the hard metal of the platform.
And that was when she saw them.
Two aircrafts swooped across the blackened sky, elegant and graceful as a bird. The steady whip, whip, whip of the propellers spun through the air. Water streamed from the hoses and nozzles attached to the bottom of each plane, dampening the body of the airship.
But it was too late.
Black stains streaked across the damaged hull. Flames flicked through the translucent material, casting shadows of oranges and reds and yellows. The entire vessel tilted before crashing into the side of the mooring mast and shaking the port to its core. The vibrations rattled Avis’s head.
The lives inside were lost. Including her parents.
Avis nodded, lowering her hands to her lap. “Of course. My best friend can do anything she wants.”
Diana fidgeted with the hem of her nightgown, the material soft against her brown skin. “And if I don’t want to be a Broadway Star?”
Avis shrugged. “I said you can do anything. You could even been Ms. Emma’s replacement, if the old hag ever dies that is.”
Diana snorted. “Really, Avis?”
“Oh, come on!” Avis rolled her eyes. “You would be splendid at nitpicking people’s skirt hems or shaking your finger in the air to prove a point.”
“Like this?” Diana got up from the bed and hunched her back, sticking her butt out. She waddled over to Avis, bobbing her head like a wide-eyed chicken, her dark curls bouncing around her face. “Now, Miss Hart, you can hardly”—her voice shrilled on the word as she stuck her finger in Avis’s face and waddled it round—“expect to catch the eye of a fine young gentleman wearing those defiled clothes.”
From this distance, Avis couldn’t hear the rumble of the engine or hear the soft thwip of the propellers, but her heart jumped in her chest and the muscles in her hands clenched in her lap as if she were the one steering straight toward the sky. What she would give to sit in that cockpit and feel the plane thrum beneath her touch. To see the world from the sky.
She let out a slow breath as another plane started down the airstrip. Each plane sped down the track and soared into the morning cloud, headed west toward The Rift and what lay beyond.
“I can at least find some answers,” Avis said slowly, her mind whirling with a plan. She’d visited Jules hundreds of times outside the gates of the airbase. And it had been so easy to convince someone to let her in to talk to Colonel Abrams. A quick flash of her lipstick-covered smile and brushing a strand of hair behind her ear.
“Answers?” Diana asked, her voice hollow.
Avis nodded and turned toward her friend, a smile creeping at the edges of her mouth. “Yes, answers. About where he was going and what he was doing. How I might find him.”
Diana’s eyes widened, her brown irises swirling with copper. “Find him?”
Avis jutted out her jaw, hands on her hips. “Yeah. If they won’t go look for Jules, then I will.”
“How?” Diana lifted her hands to her mouth as if in a prayer.
For a moment, Avis didn’t have an answer. Then, her eyes shifted from her friend to the open sketchbook on her bed. Diagrams of airplane propellers covered the page in various sizes and angles. Her pulse raced. She could hear the steady whir of a plane taking off in her heart and mind.
“Fly an airplane, if I must.”
The man said nothing, just stared at her with his dark eyes for a long moment. Then he tipped back his head and barked out a short laugh.
Avis’s stomach clenched and she frowned. “What’s so—”
“There’s only one person named Warner on this airbase,” the man said.
Avis raised her eyebrows and folded her arms across her chest, mimicking his stance. “Is that so?”
The man nodded, a smirk hiking one side of his mouth higher than the other. “Yeah. Me.”
Avis stared at him. One second, two. Then she ducked under the wing of the plane and ran.
The man snaked out a hand and grabbed her wrist, pulling her back toward him. She dug her heels against the floor, but they just scraped against the concrete. She reached up one hand to do something—hit him, claw at him, she didn’t know—but he grabbed her other wrist as easily as the first. She tugged against him, but his grip was firm and unrelenting.
“Are you done?” he asked as she struggled against him, her breath coming in short gasps. She slammed her heel against his boot, but he didn’t even flinch.
Stupid steel-toed boots. How was a girl supposed to defend herself against a pilot?
“I’m going to ask you one more, and you better answer me honestly,” he said, staring down at her. All traces of humor were gone from his face. His dark eyes smoldered, his mouth a stoic line. “What are you doing here, Avis?”